Bruxism is a disorder that involves the excessive grinding or clenching of teeth. Teeth grinding commonly occurs when a person is asleep (sleep bruxism) or when they are awake (awake bruxism).
Although doctors aren’t sure of the exact cause of bruxism, it can be associated with:
- stress and anxiety
- medications, specifically antidepressants
- caffeine intake
- jaw or tooth position
- dental work
- sleep apnea
Bruxism, especially in mild cases, does not require treatment. However, cases of severe bruxism, if left untreated, can lead to several problems, including:
- fractured or flattened teeth
- tooth pain or sensitivity
- gum recession
- muscle pain
- jaw disorders
If you suspect that you might be grinding your teeth, see a dental professional. A dentist can also examine the state of the jaw and teeth and recommend appropriate treatment.
The successful management of bruxism can be achieved by several methods:
- Mouth Guard or Splint – Mouth guards, or splints, are the most common treatment for bruxism. Made of soft plastic or laminate, they’re devices designed to keep your teeth from touching each other, protecting them from being fractured or chipped.
- Alignment Correction – Correcting the alignment of teeth is a long-term solution for treating bruxism, if caused by a misalignment condition.
- Dental Care – Fractured, flattened, and missing teeth as a result of excessive grinding can be treated with dental procedures like crowns, bridges, implants and dentures
Applying certain changes to your lifestyle can also help mitigate the frequency and symptoms of bruxism. Be sure to:
- Manage stress and anxiety. Find ways to minimize exposure to stressors in order to reduce tooth grinding. Get a massage, take a warm bath, meditate, or do yoga.
- Get adequate amounts of sleep. Getting a good night’s sleep can alleviate stress-induced bruxism.
- Cut back on alcohol and caffeine. These substances can trigger episodes of teeth grinding.
- Break the habit. Train yourself to stop clenching or grinding your teeth if you catch yourself doing it throughout the day.