The destruction of teeth through bruxism.
Parafunctioning (clenching and grinding), is many cases is attributable to the stress of the day. It can become habitual, people not aware that they are doing this.
The symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Popping or crackling sound in the ears
- Flattened, fractured, chipped or loose teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
- Tooth pain and sensitivity
- Tight jaw muscles, difficulty opening the mouth
- Pain in jaw, neck, shoulders or face
- Pain that presents like earache
- Sleep disruption
The cause of bruxism is not clearly understood but can be attributed to physical, psychological and genetic factors.
Awake bruxism can be caused by emotions like anxiety, stress, tension, or a habit that develops during deep concentration.
Sleep bruxism can be attributed to Sleep-related chewing activity that causes arousal during sleep.
If untreated for a prolonged period, it may lead to the following:
• Damage to teeth or jaw
• Headaches which are tension type in nature, not clearing
• Severe facial and jaw pain
• Temporomandibular joint disorders (Jaw joint issues)
Risk Factors for Bruxism
There are several factors that may increase a person’s risk of having bruxism, these include
- Age (bruxism is most common in children and usually subsides during adulthood)
- Having a specific personality type (such as aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive people are at higher risk)
- The use of certain medications (such as antidepressants)
- Smoking tobacco
- Drinking alcohol
- Using drugs
- Drinking caffeinated beverages
- Having an immediate family member with bruxism
- Having a mental health disorder.
- In some cases, the teeth not coming together properly because of jaw joint inflammation caused by grinding issues.
In most cases, after being diagnosed, the symptoms you are experiencing are treated with an occlusal (bite) splint worn at night. Some patients will need anti-inflammatory medication to assist with the reduction of inflammation in the jaw joint. The more severe case may need an MRI of the jaw joint after seeing a specialist. There is jaw joint surgery.
Botox into the masseter muscle which supports the jaw is an option for some patients.
Strategies to Minimize Grinding:
Although there are no known treatment strategies that will cure all types of bruxism, there are some ways to minimize the grinding, such as:
- Minimize or eliminate caffeinated drinks and foods such as coffee, tea, and chocolate.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
- Refrain from chewing on items (such as pens, pencils, or other items).
- Avoid gum chewing or chewing on sticky foods such as candy (chewing conditions the jaw muscles to adapt to chronic clenching and increases the likeliness of grinding).
- Try to be mindful when clenching or grinding of teeth occurs during the day, and deliberately focus on stopping. One strategy that may be helpful when grinding is noticed is to place the tongue between the teeth.
- Place a warm compress against the cheek, and position it in front of the earlobe (this helps to relax the jaw muscles).
- Wear a night guard.
- Exercise regularly to reduce stress.
- Take a warm, relaxing bath before going to bed at night.
- Employ relaxation techniques and/or meditation to help alleviate stress.
- Get a massage to reduce muscle tension.
- Get professional help for anxiety, severe stress, anger, or emotional problems.