What is Bruxism?

Tooth Grinding (Bruxism)

What is bruxism?  It is a condition that causes you to clench your jaw and grind your teeth.  There are two basic types.  Awake Bruxism causes you to unconsciously clench your teeth while you're awake.  Sleep bruxism occurs while you sleep.

In severe cases it can cause headaches, damaged teeth, and jaw disorders.

To find out how a dental professional can help with your tooth grinding find a 24 Hour Dentist near you or a pediatric dentist.

Bruxism and Oral Health

Research has shown it negatively impacts overall oral health.  Certainly this is not surprising since the grinding can cause the teeth to be worn down.  The jaw muscles can clearly be overworked.  The soft tissues of the mouth may be gnawed or bitten.

Learning more about bruxism will help you better understand its impact on your oral health.

What is bruxism

Bruxism symptoms

Signs and symptoms, according to Mayo Clinic may include:

  1. Teeth grinding or clenching. Often heard by sleep partner.
  2. Fractured, flattened, chipped or loose teeth.
  3. Worn tooth enamel, exposing deep layers of your tooth
  4. Tooth pain or sensitivity
  5. Jaw muscles that feel tight or tired
  6. Jaw that is locked and can't open or close completely
  7. Earache pain, with no ear problem
  8. Headache that starts in your temples
  9. Canker sore from chewing the inside of your cheek
  10. Disrupted sleep
Girl wearing hat

Bruxism causes

Doctors have not been able to pinpoint the cause.  An association has been identified with factors including daytime stress, anxiety, obstructive sleep apnea, caffeine excessive alcohol intake, and smoking.  The Journal of the American Dental Association suggests higher rates in people who drink alcohol and smoke.

The American Academy of Oral Medicine cites research showing teeth grinding is preceded by increased brain activity and heart rate.  These factors suggest it is initiated by factors in the central nervous system.

Bruxism causes

Bruxism in sleep

Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a major risk factor.  It has not been shown for sure how obstructive sleep apnea and bruxism are linked.

Two possible reasons have been considered.  The first is that apnea causes a stress in the body leading to the clenching of the jaw muscles.  The second is the clenching of the teeth could be an unconscious effort to soften the muscles of the throat and make it easier to breath during the apnea.

The cause for the link is not certain.  Still, your dentist may determine that your clenched jaw and bruxism is a risk factor for obstructive sleep apnea.

Bruxism in sleep

Bruxism treatment

Mayo Clinic states that for many people bruxism treatment is actually not necessary.  Kids often simply outgrow it.  The symptoms in adults are often not severe enough for treatment.

In severe cases treatment options include Dental treatment, Behavioral treatment, and Medication Treatment.  More information about these three treatment options follows below.

Dental Treatment

Dentist may suggest ways to protect your teeth, although these methods are not meant to stop the teeth grinding.

Mouth Guard for Teeth Grinding

The simplest way to protect your teeth from bruxism is with a professionally made mouth guard.  The mouth guard is made of plastic and worn during sleep.

Tell your dentist you grind your teeth or clench your jaw.  They may have you fitted for this custom-fitted oral appliance.

Dental Correction

Severe cases can lead to tooth sensitivity due to worn away tooth surfaces.  These chewing surfaces may need to be reshaped or repaired with a crown.

Behavior change

Your clenched jaw and teeth may benefit from a learned behavior change to treat your bruxism.  Your dentist can help find dental resources to help you find the right position for your mouth and jaw.

Face cupped in hands

Bruxism botox

The American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) shows that a small amount of botox may be used to treat bruxism.  It is placed into the jaw muscles reduces clenching and the associated tension and aches.

The muscle paralyzing function of botox has also been used with in patients with grinding symptomsThe Chicago Tribune cites a small study that had 6 of 13 participants who received botox experiencing "much improved" or "very much improved" symptoms.