If your dentist recently diagnosed you with bruxism, you may still know little about the medical condition. Here is a bit of information about bruxism to help you better understand it.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a term that describes the habit of grinding or clenching your teeth, either during the day or at night. It is considered an oral parafunctional activity, meaning that it is not related to normal functions such as eating or talking. Bruxism can cause damage to your teeth, jaw, and facial muscles, as well as disrupt your sleep and cause headaches.
What Causes Bruxism?
The exact cause of bruxism is not fully understood, but it may be influenced by a combination of physical, psychological, and genetic factors. Some possible causes or risk factors include:
- Stress, anxiety, or tension
- Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or snoring
- Medications, such as antidepressants or stimulants
- Alcohol or caffeine intake
- Tobacco smoking
- Age (bruxism is more common in young children)
- Personality traits (such as aggression or competitiveness)
- Family history of bruxism
Additionally, other medical conditions, such as epilepsy or Parkinson's disease, may increase the likelihood of bruxism.
How Does a Dentist Treat Bruxism?
The treatment of bruxism depends on the severity and the underlying cause of the condition. Your dentist is likely to treat bruxism with:
- Dental appliances. Your dentist may fit you with a custom-made mouth guard that you wear at night to protect your teeth from grinding and clenching. This can also help reduce jaw muscle tension and pain.
- Dental correction. If your teeth are severely damaged by bruxism, your dentist may recommend reshaping the chewing surfaces of your teeth or restoring them with crowns or veneers. This can improve your bite alignment and prevent further wear and tear.
How Does a Dentist Diagnose Bruxism?
Bruxism can be hard to self-diagnose because many people are not aware that they grind or clench their teeth, especially if they do it during sleep. However, there are some signs and symptoms that your dentist may notice, such as:
- Flattened, fractured, chipped, or loose teeth
- Worn tooth enamel or dentin exposure
- Tooth pain or sensitivity
- Tight or sore jaw muscles or difficulty opening the mouth
- Pain in the jaw, neck, or face
People with bruxism may also experience tinnitus, daytime fatigue, and headaches.
If you suspect that you have bruxism, you should visit a dentist for a dental examination. To schedule an appointment, contact a dentist in your local area.