Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding and clenching, is not a life-threatening disorder, but it can cause many painful symptoms. As you grind your teeth together, you are wearing down the protective layer of enamel. Once this layer disappears, nerves and blood vessels within the tooth can become exposed. If you grind your teeth, you may suffer from bruxism. Keep reading to find out what bruxism means for your health and well-being.
Possible causes of bruxism
The exact cause for bruxism is unclear, but there are several possible reasons. One of the most well-known is stress, especially for day-bruxism. Age is another factor that can increase the risk of bruxism. Teeth grinding is not uncommon among young children, but the risk usually subsides with age.
Professionals are currently researching further causes, as well as if the condition is related to other disorders like dementia, epilepsy, sleep apnoea, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. Some researchers suggest that bruxism may also be an uncommon side effect of various medications and behaviours such as smoking or consuming alcohol.
What does bruxism mean for your health?
Bruxism can negatively affect your teeth and the general health of your mouth. Chronic bruxism can also lessen your sleep quality and duration, which causes further stress on the body.
Due to the chronic tension of your jaw muscles, bruxism can also cause facial pain, headaches, and earaches. This pain is centred around your jaw joint and can develop into temporomandibular disorder (TMD). If you notice any popping or clicking in your jaw joint, it is time to take immediate action against bruxism.
When it comes to your teeth, consistent grinding wears down the enamel and strength of each tooth. Weak teeth with no protective layer may require costly or invasive restorative dental procedures like implants, dentures or crowns.
Unfortunately, dental professionals have not yet found a cure for bruxism, but there are steps you can take to reduce grinding and to protect your teeth. Mouthguards for bruxism are effective against pain, and can provide relief. Mouthguards for bruxism are created in various materials to provide comfort and minimise the harmful effects of chronic teeth grinding. If you already have some tooth damage due to bruxism, mouthguards can help prevent further damage and protect your tooth enamel.
In general, mouthguards for bruxism are made of plastic or rubber, and even out the pressure across your jaw. They also provide a barrier between the upper and lower teeth to protect them from grinding. However, they cannot stop the physical clenching and grinding of your jaw.
Soft rubber mouth guards are best for people who clench rather than grind while a hard-plastic guard is best for chronic grinding.
If your bruxism is rather mild, a hybrid mouthguard made of both rubber and plastic will suffice.
Mouthguards for bruxism can be used from anywhere between six months to five years, dependent on the severity of your condition.
Considering universal-fit vs. custom mouthguards
There are both universal-fit and custom mouthguards on the market today. Universal-fit models will not be moulded to your teeth or mouth and may be unable to effectively stop your teeth grinding. When considering mouthguards for bruxism, custom mouthguards are the best option.
Custom mouthguards are moulded to your mouth and provide a customized and accurate fit. Even though they may appear thinner, they still provide more than enough comfort and protection for your mouth. Professionals suggest that custom mouthguards may also help to fight the frequency of teeth grinding and improve tooth alignment.
The thinness of custom mouthguards makes them a viable option for not only sleep bruxism but also day bruxism. These thin guards will not affect your speech or appearance but will work to protect your enamel and jaw muscles when uncontrollable grinding occurs.
The more issues you experience due to bruxism, the more you will have to spend on future dentist bills to correct the problem. Therefore, investing in a quality custom mouthguard that will protect both your teeth and jaw is worth it.
Living with bruxism
Living with bruxism can be difficult, but there are ways to alleviate and avoid pain. In addition to the use of custom mouthguards, work on improving your sleep hygiene routine. Go to sleep at the same time each night and create a relaxing routine before jumping into bed. If you feel your jaw begin to clench or spasm, relax the muscles with a warm cloth or a heating pad. Sleeping on your side and exercising regularly may also help reduce the pain bruxism causes.
If you believe your bruxism is caused by stress or anxiety, look into therapy options for those disorders. When you get your stress-levels under control, your bruxism symptoms may subside as well. If you have sleep apnoea, work on finding solutions regarding your blocked or congested airways. This may decrease unconscious jaw movement and clenching while you are sleeping.
At Dental Spot, we believe in preventative dentistry, so do not wait until your teeth are sensitive from grinding before seeking treatment. Do not hesitate to give us a call on (02) 9158 6115 if you wish to discuss bruxism treatment with one of our dentists.