Bruxism literally translates to “gnashing of teeth”, and is another way of describing the habit of grinding teeth or clenching jaws.
What is Bruxism?
Habitual teeth grinding can occur consciously during the day, or while sleeping at night. It is the most common sleep disorder, and most people are not aware of their bruxism. Only an estimated 5% go on to develop symptoms, such as jaw pain and headaches, which prompt treatment. A parent or disturbed sleeping partner may notice the behavior first, although sufferers may notice pain symptoms without understanding the cause.
Symptoms of Patients that Grind their Teeth
- Anxiety, stress, and tension
- Eating disorders
- Loose teeth
- Gum recession
- Neck pain
- Sore or painful jaw
Problems Caused By Bruxism
Bruxism can result in the following dental problems:
- Occlusal trauma: which means the damage to teeth at their points of contact with each other, such as abnormal wear patterns
- Abfractions and fractures in the teeth: damage related to tension and compression on tooth surfaces
- tooth loss
- Gum recession
The following factors may be associated with bruxism:
- Disturbed sleep patterns and other sleep disorders (obstructive sleep apnea, hypopnea, snoring, moderate daytime sleepiness)
- Malocclusion, in which the upper and lower teeth occlude in a disharmonic way. For example, the back teeth may contact prematurely.
Bruxism can be made worse by the following factors, some of which may be introduced by the bruxism:
- Relatively high levels of consumption of caffeinated drinks and foods, such as coffee, colas, and chocolate, to alleviate the disturbed sleep patterns.
- High levels of blood alcohol
- High levels of anxiety, stress, work-related stress, irregular work shifts, stressful profession and ineffective coping strategies
- Drug use, such as SSRIs and stimulants, including methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methylenedioxyamphetamine (MDA), methylphenidate and other amphetamines, including those taken for medical reasons. Frequent use of GHB and similar * GABA-inducing analogues such as Phenibut
- Hypersensitivity of the dopamine receptors in the brain
- Disorders such as Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases
- Obsessive–compulsive disorder
- Eustachian Tube Dysfunction
Treatment For Bruxism
A dental guard or splint can reduce tooth abrasion. Dental guards are typically made of plastic and fit over some or all of upper and/or lower teeth. The guard protects the teeth from abrasion and can reduce muscle strain by allowing the upper and lower jaw to move easily with respect to each other. Treatment goals include:
Constraining the bruxing pattern to avoid damage to the temporomandibular joints; Stabilizing the occlusion by minimizing gradual changes to the positions of the teeth, preventing tooth damage and revealing the extent and patterns of bruxism through examination of the markings on the splint’s surface. A dental guard is typically worn during every night’s sleep on a long-term basis. Dental guards do not cure the condition.
Damaged teeth can be repaired by replacing the worn natural crown of the tooth with prosthetic crowns. Materials used to make crowns vary; some are less prone to breaking than others and can last longer. Porcelain fused to metal crowns may be used in the anterior (front) of the mouth; in the posterior, full gold crowns are preferred. All-porcelain crowns are now becoming more and more common and work well for both anterior and posterior restorations. To protect the new crowns and dental implants, an occlusal guard should be worn when sleeping.