With the increase in stress from lock-downs, unemployment, social media controversy and many other stressors, bruxism increased by 59% as of last year, according to American Dental Association. Dentists are still seeing the results of closed dental practices and decreases in dental visits when the practices were opened.
What is Bruxism
Bruxism is tooth grinding or clenching, which puts a lot of pressure on your teeth and if your teeth are already compromised or weak, grinding or clenching can cause even more damage. Not to mention, the pain it can cause your jaw, an increase in the possibility of TMJ disorder and an increase in headaches.
What Causes Tooth Grinding Or Tooth Clenching
Of course, the number one cause of bruxism is stress or nervous tension. Related emotions and feelings can be anger, pain, or frustration. People who are hurried, overly competitive or aggressive have a higher possibility of being tooth grinders than people who are much more relaxed and easygoing. Sometimes, it can be caused by an imbalance in brain neurotransmitters or some medications may cause it (1).
How Is Bruxism Diagnosed
During an exam, your dentist will look at the condition of your teeth and ask questions about symptoms and discomfort. Some signs are visible to the dentist, some require that you tell your dentist about discomforts or problems. These are some symptoms to be aware of:
- Abraded teeth
- Chipped or cracked teeth
- Facial pain
- Overly sensitive teeth
- Tense facial and jaw muscles
- Dislocation of the jaw
- Locking of the jaw
- Wearing away of the tooth enamel, exposing the underlying dentin (inside of the tooth)
- A popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
- Tongue indentations
- Damage to the inside of the cheek
- Wear facets (flat smooth areas created on the biting surfaces of the teeth as they are rubbed together repeatedly) (1)
Treatments for Bruxism
Once tooth grinding or clenching has been diagnosed, treatment can be prescribed.
Being fit for a mouthguard to wear at night or during the day, which will help prevent further damage to your teeth, as well as protect any new dental work.
Changing your behavior by being taught how to rest your tongue, how to keep your teeth apart and how to keep your lips closed, and how to relax.
Biofeedback for daytime clenching and grinding can aid in making you aware of when you are doing it by measuring the muscle activity of the mouth and jaw.
Prescribed or changed medication either to help regulate the neurotransmitters in your brain or changing medication that may be known to cause bruxism, such as antidepressants, fluoxetine and paroxetine.(1)
Prevention of Bruxism
Of course, preventing a problem before it starts or even gets worse is always a good thing.
As soon as you are aware of higher stress or some ongoing emotional stressors in your life, start doing the following, in order to prevent the possibility of falling into the bad habit of grinding or clenching your teeth.
- Schedule regular dental appointments, to keep aware of the condition of your teeth.
- Reduce stress by listening to music, taking warm baths, and exercising.
- Avoid caffeine in the evening.
- Avoid alcohol in the evening, as it may increase nighttime bruxism
- Build good sleep habits, including treatments for sleep problems
- Ask anyone who may be around you when you sleep to let you know if they can hear you grinding your teeth or hear your jaw clicking, so you can communicate that to your dentist and doctor. (2)
Being sure you see your dentist regularly will go a long way in helping to prevent and treat tooth grinding or clenching. Book your appointment today.