Bruxism

Definition

Bruxism is chronic, involuntary grinding or clenching of teeth. It usually occurs during sleep, but it may also occur while awake.

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Causes

The exact cause of bruxism is unknown, but it is believed to be related to:

  • Stress and anxiety
  • Abnormal alignment of the teeth or jaws

Risk Factors

Bruxism is more common in people aged 40 or younger. Women aged 27-40 years old are more likely to get bruxism.

Factors that may increase your risk of bruxism include:

  • Chronic stress or anxiety
  • Aggressive or competitive personality
  • Smoking tobacco or drinking caffeinated beverages
  • Abuse of drugs or alcohol, especially methamphetamines
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Family member with bruxism
  • Facial or oral trauma
  • Use of psychiatric medications, especially antidepressants
  • Prior serious head injury
  • Complication resulting from a disorder, such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Grinding sounds during sleep
  • Teeth that are sensitive to heat, cold, or brushing
  • Tense facial or jaw muscles
  • Teeth that are worn down, flattened, fractured, or chipped
  • Hairline cracks or wearing of the enamel on some teeth
  • Sore teeth
  • Swollen gums
  • Headache, especially when waking in the morning
  • Damage to the inside of the cheek—from biting or chewing

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. An examination of your teeth and jaw will be done. With bruxism, teeth will have flattened tips, excessive wear, thin enamel, or sensitivity. X-rays may be done to check for further damage to your teeth or the underlying bone.

Treatment

Methods of treatment include:

Behavioral or Cognitive Treatment

This method focuses on changing behavior through various techniques, such as:

Orthodontic Treatment

Your dentist may advise:

  • A protective mouth appliance, such as a night guard. It can absorb the pressure of constant night grinding.
  • Correction of misaligned teeth if your bruxism might be caused by this.

Medication

Medication is only recommended for short-term use. Medications may include:

  • Muscle relaxants before sleep
  • Mild sleeping aids
  • Injection of botulinum toxin (Botox) in severe cases if other treatment not working

Bruxism that is not treated may result in gum damage, tooth loss, and jaw-related disorders.

Prevention

The same methods used to treat bruxism can be used to prevent the condition. In addition, avoid caffeinated drinks at night.

Make sure to see your dentist regularly for check-ups

Revisions

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This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

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