Teeth grinding, also medically referred to as bruxism is a sleep-related movement disorder that involves the grinding of the upper and lower teeth together. Bruxism can manifest symptoms that can cause discomfort such as facial pain, chronic headaches, and sore jaw. In addition, bruxism can also impact the oral health negatively and might cause conditions that will merit expensive dental work.
Fortunately, just like the symptoms, there are several bruxism treatments available at one’s disposal nowadays. However, before we tackle some of the known bruxism treatments, let’s look into some of its most common causes first.
Bruxism is considered a multifactorial health issue. In other words, its cause can be attributed to a combination of factors. Some of the most common causes of bruxism include:
Teeth grinding or bruxism has been noted to occur in people who deal with the following:
Psychosocial factors for bruxism is often linked to awake bruxism (teeth grinding while awake). However, it has been observed that some cases of stress and anxiety-related bruxism can exacerbate teeth grinding while sleeping.
For individuals who grind their teeth while awake, certain relaxation techniques may be recommended.
Peripheral factors like poor occlusion or misalignment of the teeth has also been considered as likely causes of bruxism. When the teeth is not lined up correctly, this might cause the jaw to become unstable.
If your teeth are misaligned and you suspect you have bruxism, it would be best to see your dentist immediately. This is especially true if you recently had a tooth extracted or if you just had a major dental work done.
Many current research into sleep bruxism focus on the pathophysiological factors which may be out of balance in a way. Also, some clinicians are also considering sleep bruxism as one of the possible first signs of OSA or obstructive sleep apnea.
Because of its complex nature, there is no known bruxism“cure” that applies to all patients. Before an accurate medical advice can be given, the patient’s medical history, symptoms, and other vital factors are taken into account.
However, some of the most effective treatment options for bruxism include:
This is often one of the first tools used by dentists to treat bruxism. It is also the American Dental Association’s (ADA) first recommendation for nighttime grinding (coupled with some stress relief techniques). Also known as occlusal splints, night guards are used to prevent damage caused by teeth grinding.
Psychotherapy and Biofeedback
Biofeedback techniques are often used to treat daytime teeth grinding. In addition to biofeedback, counselling, as well as psychiatric counselling may also be recommended.
For patients who grind their teeth as a result of high stress, the use of relaxation techniques may be recommended. Some of the possible relaxation techniques can include mindfulness meditation, yoga, guided imagery, and even prayer.
Bruxism, regardless if it occurs during the day or night is a complicated condition. That being said, there is no “one-size-fits-all in terms of cause or cure. The good thing is there are several treatment options available that suits any insurance plan, budget, or lifestyle. The key is to accurately identify the cause of the grinding so the best treatment possible can be given.