Bruxism is a bad habit formed by many people and has serious consequences. It’s often identified by a constant grinding and clenching of the teeth. For some people, it’s a form of comfort. Others do it because they’re stressed out or anxious. Regardless, bruxism is not a good habit and many people find themselves unable to break out of it.
No matter what the reason is, bruxism can be very harmful to your teeth and should be stopped immediately. To better understand what bruxism is, let’s break down it’s side effects and how professionals strive to get rid of it!
The Side Effects
For most people, grinding their teeth is something that happens occasionally, usually when they’re feeling stressed. However, for others, bruxism is a chronic condition that can lead to a number of serious side effects.
In addition to causing pain and discomfort, bruxism can damage the teeth, leading to chips, cracks, and even tooth loss! This damage to the teeth, can lead to severe tooth sensitivity, tooth decay, and gum disease if left untreated.
If left untreated, bruxism can have a major impact on your quality of life, leading to sleep disorders like insomnia and sleep apnea. If you think you may be suffering from bruxism, it’s important to get it resolved swiftly as it’s ramifications can reach far beyond the smile.
Understanding TMJ Disorder
Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw or teeth? Or maybe you notice that your jaw clicks or pops when you open your mouth wide. These are all signs of TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disorder.
TMJ is a condition that affects the joints that connect your jaw to your skull. The disorder can cause pain in your jaw, teeth, and surrounding muscles and can make it difficult to open and close your mouth. Which hinder daily and necessary functions like chewing and speaking.
There are a variety of different treatments for TMJ, depending on the severity of the disorder. In some cases, home remedies like ice packs and over-the-counter pain relievers may be enough to ease the symptoms. In more severe cases, however, you may need to see a dentist or doctor for treatment. They may recommend dental appliances or surgery to correct the issue.
To correct this dangerous habit, dental professionals are equipped with many methods and lots of knowledge to set your smile on the right path! Let’s dive into some of the ways a reliable dentist can fix your case of bruxism.
Fortunately, there are some behavior techniques that dentists can introduce in order to stop minor cases of bruxism that have been caught early on. For instance, it is important to be mindful of when you subconsciously grind or clench your jaw. For most people, it happens as a form of comfort or stress-relief unknowingly! Teaching patients to catch and stop themselves from performing this action is crucial- and instead, transfer that energy to a different practice like using a stress ball.
One common behavior technique is to have the person practice good sleep habits, as most cases of bruxism are prevalent during rest. This includes things like avoiding caffeine before bed and winding down for 30 minutes before sleep. Massaging the jaw, reading or taking a hot bath before bed, can also help your mind and body release tension before you sleep.
A professional nightguard is a custom-made, soft or hard gumshield that is designed to protect your teeth from damage caused by clenching and grinding at night. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth in order to create a model from which the nightguard will be crafted.
Nightguards are usually made from a tough, clear plastic that is comfortable to wear and allows you to breathe easily while you sleep. They work by creating a physical barrier between your upper and lower teeth, which prevents them from making contact with each other and grinding down. Wearing a nightguard can help to protect your teeth from damage and may also help to reduce nighttime noise for your partner.
There are several medications that can help to stop bruxism;
- Tiagabine is an anticonvulsant that has been shown to reduce tooth grinding.
- Pergolide is a dopamine agonist that can also help to reduce bruxism.
- Bromocriptine is another dopamine agonist that has been shown to be effective.
There is also an injection called botulinum toxin type A. Which is injected into the masseter muscle (the muscle responsible for chewing). Injections are typically given every three to four months, and the results have promising results in stopping the compulsive behavior, especially during sleep.
If you’re struggling with bruxism, it’s best to visit your dentist immediately. They’ll be able to help you find the best option for treatment and prevention. As they’re always best equipped to solve any problem your smile is faced with!