Teeth grinding or Bruxism, as it is generally known as is an involuntary rhythmic movement or clenching of the jaw against each other. Grinding of the teeth is typically experienced while the patient is asleep, although, daytime clenching of the teeth is quite common among youngsters who work under stressful conditions.
Science defines Bruxism as a condition where the patient’s jaw rub against each other. Bruxism is a combination of grinding the teeth and clenching the jaw. This condition might appear among individuals regardless of their age and is known to be a very common yet disturbing condition.
What causes Bruxism?
This has been a relevant question across the years as the exact cause behind the condition was unknown several years ago. Recent studies have led researchers to understand a co-relation between bruxism and external factors such as stress, anxiety, smoking, alcohol consumption, sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, etc. However, scientists have also understood another theory. The neuromuscular action known as chewing has a direct connection with the signals from the brain. As the patient is resting, there are chances when the process of chewing turns out to be in the active state even though the brain is still resting.
Here are the underlying factors that lead to Bruxism.
- Alcohol consumption
- Snoring or sleep apnea
How can we identify the initial stages of Bruxism?
Bruxism can be easily identified when the patient starts to suffer from unexplained and severe headaches. There are other several symptoms that will let us identify the symptoms of Bruxism. Here are a few underlying symptoms of the condition:
- Severe muscle pain.
- Unexplained headaches.
- The discomfort experienced at the TMJ and severe jaw pain.
- Unusual stiffness experienced near the head and neck.
- Enlargement of facial muscles.
- Chipped or flattened teeth.
- Noticing the presence of chewed tissues inside the mouth.
- Intense myofascial pain.
How can we treat Bruxism?
Treating Bruxism will involve a proper understanding of the patient’s overall health and lifestyle. The initial stage of Bruxism can be treated by just changing the patient’s lifestyle and daily routines. A stressful job might mean the patient isn’t getting proper rest. Poor sleep can also contribute to Bruxism. Treatment in such cases would involve advising the patient with relaxation techniques.
Advanced stages of the condition can be treated with the help of occlusal appliances.
Occlusal appliances are worn in order to protect the teeth from the pain. These appliances are custom made plastic mouthpieces designed to fit the teeth. Wearing one of these appliances will reduce jaw muscle pain and protect both your teeth and temporomandibular joint. Occlusal appliances are usually worn at bedtime and are considered the treatment of choice.
Examples are night guards, occlusal bite guards, bite plates, etc.
Mandibular Advancement Device
The Mandibular Advancement Device is recommended when a sleeping disorder is a cause of bruxism. The Mandibular Advancement Device works by pushing the jaw into the right place allowing smooth passage of oxygen into the lungs of the patient. As this happens, the patient will find it comfortable to breathe and inhale oxygen into the body. This will prevent snoring, which occurs otherwise due to the disruption of the airway passage.
This method of treatment will help to curb sleep apnea ultimately preventing the teeth from grinding.
Book an appointment with Dr. An in San Francisco, CA, and we shall assist you more with Bruxism and its treatment, today!