Almost 70% of cases are due to stress or anxiety - here's a complete guide
13 January 2020| Last updated on 13 January 2020
Did you know? Bruxism is classified into two categories - awake bruxism and sleep bruxism...
Stress is a common occurrence in life, which comes along with various situations we encounter in our day-to-day lives. Whether it's work or our personal lives, stress can manifest itself in different ways in the body, and our body copes with it in various forms.
One way our body tries to release this stress is by grinding the teeth, a.k.a. bruxism.
Bruxism is abnormal grinding of the teeth, whether consciously during the day time or unconsciously during sleep. Repressive feelings, anxieties, everyday problems, and major life events can cause the condition.
In fact, nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of stress or anxiety. It can occur in both children and adults, but it is most common between 25 and 44-year-olds.
Nonetheless, many people grind and/or clench their teeth occasionally to a certain degree. Particularly in this region, where residents are fond of maintaining a particular class of lifestyle. As a result, stress runs very high - and so are the incidences of bruxism. At Mediclinic Welcare Hospital, a new case of bruxism arrives almost every day.
What exactly is Bruxism?
The condition is classified into two conditions: awake bruxism, and sleep bruxism.
The former is characterised by involuntary clenching of the teeth and jaw bracing in reaction to certain stimuli. There is generally no tooth grinding with awake bruxism.
Sleep bruxism, however, is characterised by automatic teeth grinding that involves rhythmic and sustained jaw muscle contractions. Unfortunately, not many people are aware of this condition unless they have been told to make a conscious effort to recognise the clench during a stressful situation or ask the respective spouse/partner to notice if any night grinding is happening.
As a result, sometimes diagnosis can be difficult.
Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they are actually grinding their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when you wake up is a telltale symptom of bruxism.
Why does Bruxism happen?
Why bruxism occurs is not always clear; possible causes range from psychosocial factors (stress and anxiety) to excessive response to arousals during sleep. It can also happen with an abnormal bite or crooked teeth.
In the case of children, bruxism often occurs with obstructive nasal and breathing symptoms due to overlarge tonsils and adenoids. They experience more arousals from sleep than adults, but whether this is due to bruxism alone or their obstructive symptoms needs further investigation.
Yet it has been found that there is a greater incidence of behaviour and attention difficulties in children with bruxism. Similarly, it is unknown whether bruxism is the cause of increased arousals and behavioural problems or if children with behaviour and attention difficulties exhibit altered sleep along with the condition.
It is known that sleep fragmentation secondary to sleep-disordered breathing in children can lead to behaviour, attention, and executive function problems.
What are the effects of Bruxism?
Bruxism results in an enormous force being applied in the mouth. As a result, the hardest substance in the human body - enamel - can be severely damaged. This can lead to excessive tooth wear, headaches, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort, and muscle aches, facial myalgia (muscle pain), earaches, tightness and stiffness of the shoulders, limitation of mouth opening and sleep disruption of the individual, as well as their spouse/partner.
Oral symptoms include abnormal tooth wear, fracture of the teeth, inflammation, and recession of the gums, excess tooth mobility and premature loss of teeth.
Headaches seem to be the most commonly cited area of pain, and it is estimated that teeth grinders are three times more likely to suffer from a headache than non-teeth grinders. Individuals with long-standing bruxism also appear to be more likely to have craniofacial pain than non-Bruxers.
Is there a cure for Bruxism?
The diagnosis of this condition is important, not only from a dental point of view, but also for the general wellbeing of the patient considering a wide variety of symptoms can occur due to bruxism.
A correct diagnosis can really help to improve the quality of life of a patient. Sometimes, not always, but there's a chance that certain symptoms like headaches, facial myalgia, earaches, tightness/stiffness of the shoulders and sleep disruption can be linked to other conditions, and hence may result in patients not getting any relief.
Sadly, there is no specific cure for bruxism, and it is important to manage the consequences of the disorder. Various preventative measures, including Mandibular Advancement devices, drugs, stress management, and occlusal splints/night guards have been used, depending on the probable cause of the issue.
What are occlusal splints/night guards?
Occlusal splints are effective as far as controlling the symptoms are concerned, but may not 'cure' the condition. These splints - or bite guards - are a treatment of choice as it reduces the grinding noise and protects the premature wear without substantial adverse effects.
Occlusal discrepancies or misalignment of the upper and lower jaws can also trigger grinding. With the advent of technology, it is now possible to identify the occlusal high points in the form of computerised analysis and thereby correct them.
What other treatments can help bruxism?
Psychoanalysis, autosuggestion, hypnosis, progressive relaxation, meditation, self-monitoring and sleep hygiene have also been prescribed for the management of bruxism.
More general relaxation techniques, including meditation or yoga, are supposed to produce a sense of self-esteem and control over one's body which might help in alleviating the symptoms. Although it has not been proved that the holistic approach has a high percent cure rate.
Do you have Bruxism?
It is extremely important to create awareness amongst people so that the condition can be diagnosed in a timely fashion, which helps to prevent further damage to the teeth and surrounding oral tissues.
If you suspect you suffer from bruxism or wish to discuss your symptoms further with a medical specialist, you can book your dental check-up at Mediclinic Welcare Hospital today by calling 04 605 5999 or by visiting mediclinic.ae