Frequently Asked Questions on Bruxism
What is bruxism?
When sleeping, most people keep their upper and lower teeth slightly separated, with relaxed jaws. However, some individuals habitually contract the jaw muscles so that the teeth either clench or grind together. A tight jaw can exert enormous pressure, and when coupled with teeth grinding, there is the potential for considerable dental pain and damage. Such destructive grinding or clenching habits are known as bruxism.
While nightly grinding is certainly more common, some people find that they grind or clench their teeth in the daytime as well. In some ways, this can be an easier habit to break, if you can commit to consciously relaxing your jaw muscles. Further information on breaking your bruxism habit is located here.
What causes bruxism?
Stress is the most common cause of bruxism. However, there are several other potential causes. Simple dental misalignment can easily lead someone to grind his or her teeth. Also, certain drugs and medications have been connected with bruxism. Children may grind their teeth for a number of reasons: hyperactivity, pain from teething and earaches being the most common.
You can begin to treat your bruxism even before you identify its underlying cause. Most dentists suggest the use of a good quality night guard to alleviate your symptoms. For further information on the causes of bruxism, click here.
What are the main symptoms and signs of bruxism?
Many individuals only learn about their bruxism habit when their dentist discovers that the enamel on their teeth is cracked and worn. Even though these people may experience neck, shoulder and jaw pain when they wake up in the morning, they very often do not equate these symptoms with a possible bruxism habit. In actual fact, teeth grinding is the most likely cause of all of the aforementioned symptoms. Additionally, it is regarded in medical circles as a sleep disorder, as it often prevents a person from reaching the deeper levels of sleep. For more information, see here.
Should I try a Mouth Guard?
If you are diagnosed with bruxism, the first treatment option you should consider is a good mouth guard. Mouth guards are not a “miracle cure”. They simply prevent your upper and lower sets of teeth from meeting, making it impossible to grinding them together. However, most people only grind their teeth episodically (usually during times of increased stress). They find that a mouth guard prevents any long-term damage, and then their bruxism resolves on its own when their stress is alleviated.
There are several varieties of night guards currently available. As you might expect, they vary in quality and comfort, so it is important that you do your research. Of course, the best possible mouth guard is one that is custom made to fit you. These are generally made by your dentist, and can cost hundreds of dollars. If these are not realistically in your price range, there is no need to worry. Several dental labs offer comparable mouth guards, which are also custom-built according to dental impressions you mold by yourself at home and then send to them. Very often, these dental labs are the same ones used by dentists to order custom mouth guards anyway! When you bypass the visit to the dentist and mold the dental impression on your own, you stand to save a considerable sum of money. For further information, click here.
How can biofeedback treatment help me?
When used correctly and consistently, a biofeedback device will more than likely break your teeth grinding habit entirely. Biofeedback uses the principle of classical, or Pavlovian, conditioning. Subjects gradually learn to relax their jaws in response to a small audio signal emitted by the device. One very successful biofeedback device is known as the biofeedback headband. Consumers report that it is extremely easy to operate and will actually stop a grinding habit in a short space of time. For further information, see here.
How can I stop grinding my teeth when I sleep?
Does bruxism keep you from sleeping properly at night? Many individuals feel surprised to learn that their teeth grinding habit is deeply ingrained and occurs at regular intervals during the night. In fact, ten percent of Americans grind or clench their teeth to such an extent that they are causing serious dental damage. Many others suffer persistent jaw, neck and head pain.
Teeth grinding is easily treated, and yet it will develop into a serious problem if you do not take the time to address it. If you suspect that you are clenching and/or grinding your teeth in your sleep (or at any other time of the day), consult your dentist or doctor for confirmation. If you are diagnosed with bruxism, do not delay. Learn how to best address your symptoms.