People with bruxism clench their jaw and grind their teeth during the day and while they sleep at night. These individuals are usually unaware of their condition. Often a sleeping partner or parent may be the first ones to become aware of the behavior.
Bruxism is one of the leading causes of tooth loss, receding gums and other dental issues.
Being one of the most common sleep disorders, sleep bruxism affects practically everybody at some point in their lives, but is usually at such a moderate level that it doesn’t cause health problems.
The following factors may determine whether bruxism becomes a source of pain or other problems for an individual:
- Duration and amount of pressure applied when clenching jaw and grinding teeth
- Misalignment of teeth
- Stress level
- Relaxation ability
- Sleep hygiene
Only about 5% of the population develops symptoms that may include:
- Jaw pain
- Tooth sensitivity
- Temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ)
- Neck pain
- Eating disorders
- High levels of caffeine consumption
- Excessive Alcohol use
- Use of stimulant drugs (amphetamines, ecstasy)
- Other sleep disorders such as sleep apnea
- Huntington’s and Parkinson’s diseases
The force and pressure of clenching teeth causes problems with the muscles, tissues, and bone surrounding the jaw. This behavior can result in temporomandibular joint problems (TMJ).
- Applying ice or heat to jaw
- Don’t eat hard foods or chew on non-food items (pencils, etc.)
- Drink lots of water
- Get plenty of sleep
- Stretching exercises
- Massaging muscles of neck, shoulders and face
- Relaxation techniques to reduce stress
- Dental guards and splints
- Correction of misaligned teeth
- Contingent electric stimulation
An extremely diluted form of Botox is used to partially paralyze, weaken and ‘relax’ the muscles of the face.
Dietary Supplements such as magnesium and calcium may help relieve sleep bruxism.
If you suspect that you may have sleep bruxism or related issues that are causing pain or other serious problems, contact a doctor or dentist for a full evaluation.
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