What is Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)?
Millions of people around the world suffer from bruxism. In the U.S.A. alone, the number is estimated to be approximately 60 million people. In fact, it is highly likely that you or a family member may suffer from bruxism.
Bruxism is defined as when a person grinds (characterized by excessively rubbing both tooth surfaces across one another), or clenches (defined by tightly holding top and bottom) teeth together. It is a disorder that affects men and women, adults and children, as well as every race and socio-economic level. Unfortunately, most people don't realize that they have bruxism until the symptoms are manifest, which is why it is important to understand the causes and symptoms of bruxism, so it can be treated before the effects become more severe.
The consequences of bruxing often impairs the quality of life, and over the long term, chronic bruxing can result in a variety of damage, such as:
- Front teeth worn down so they are flat and even in length, as the teeth lose their natural contours. Severe bruxing can cause breakdown of enamel, reducing teeth to stumps.
- Teeth ground down to the dentin, causing sensitivity to heat and cold, due to premature tooth erosion.
- Micro-cracks and broken fillings, which can eventually lead to nerve damage, tooth fracture, and potential tooth loss.
- Loose teeth, caused by the rocking effect of bruxing, and gum pockets (the supporting tissue and bone is destroyed, leaving gaps around teeth), also produced by the back-and-forth bruxing effect. This can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss.
- Headache and aching jaws due to overuse of muscles, and potentially inflamed muscles in the TMJ area, as well as potential issues with the temporomandibular joint.
What Causes Bruxism? What Are Some of the Causes and Symptoms of Bruxism?Even though the exact cause of bruxism is still not known, the medical community believes a combination of psychological, physical, lifestyle, and genetic factors are to blame. Some of the factors listed below are also considered culprits that contribute to teeth grinding.
- Stress & Anxiety (it’s estimated that 70% of all cases of Bruxism are from stress & anxiety)
- Other external psychological factors including bullying, anger, frustration, and tension
- As a coping strategy or a habit during periods of deep concentration
Bruxing, according to research, is a subconscious attempt by the human body to decrease stress levels. Bruxism is common in young children as they shed their baby teeth, and tend to outgrow as they are replaced with permanent teeth.
The primary common symptoms of bruxism include teeth grinding and clenching, fractured or chipped teeth, tooth pain and sensitivity, worn tooth enamel; neck pain, such as stiffness and sore muscles in the neck, shoulder, and arms; a sore jaw or jaw pain, ear pain, pain behind the eyes, and headaches.
Secondary Symptoms of Bruxism
Additionally, patients who suffer from some, or all, of the primary symptoms may also suffer from secondary symptoms of bruxism. These can range from sleep disruption for yourself or your partner, to headaches or “TMJ headaches”, migraines, and facial pain, neck and back pain; nausea, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and stiff shoulders.
Do you or does someone that you know suffer from bruxism? Bruxism is a painful problem, and the effects for some can be quite debilitating.
Alleviating Bruxism – How Can Bruxism be Treated?
Unfortunately, there is no medication currently available to relieve bruxism; the recommended treatment for bruxism is the use of a dental grind guard.
The Ora-GUARD® Dental Grind Guard is an over-the-counter product that features a patented design that helps reduce both the primary and secondary symptoms of bruxism. It is an easy self-fit and its lower jaw design fits securely in the mouth, that comfortably slides the lower jaw down and forward, relaxing the jaw muscles. The patented wedge bite plate design protects teeth from the damaging effects of grinding; the medical grade fit material absorbs jaw clenching tension, and helps improve occlusal misalignment.