Bruxism, often called teeth grinding, is when people unconsciously clench or rub their teeth together. This behaviour can occur during sleep and wakefulness and has various oral health implications and potential systemic effects.
The exact causes of bruxism are varied and can be psychological, such as stress and anxiety, or physiological, such as misalignment of the teeth or jaw. Certain medications or substances, such as caffeine and alcohol, can also promote bruxism.
Symptoms and consequences:
Common symptoms include worn teeth, jaw pain, difficulty sleeping, headaches, primarily upon waking, and increased tooth sensitivity. If bruxism persists, long-term damage can occur, such as tooth fractures, periodontal disease or even changes in the jaw structure.
Bruxism is usually diagnosed through a careful history and clinical examination. Dentists and oral surgeons pay attention to muscular tension and typical signs of wear and tear on the teeth and jaw joints. They can use additional diagnostic procedures such as X-rays or special sleep studies for a more precise assessment.
Treatment for bruxism aims to break the habit of grinding and clenching, relieve symptoms and prevent further damage. Special dental splints are often used for this purpose, usually worn at night but during the day to protect the teeth, relieve the strain on the jaw joints and relax the muscles. Additionally, physical therapy exercises, stress management techniques, and, in some cases, medications may be recommended.
Prevention and management:
In addition to direct treatment, it is essential to identify and address possible triggering factors. This may include lifestyle adjustments, reducing stress, or treating jaw misalignment. A regular dental check-up is also crucial to recognize early signs of bruxism and react accordingly.