The Crux of Bruxism

Dr. Buxton Explains Bruxism

Have you ever been told to “Get a grip!” when dealing with stress? If taken literally, the advice might result in clenching or grinding of teeth.

Some patients react to stress by grinding their teeth (bruxism) unconsciously during the day or, more commonly, while sleeping. The constant pressure and motion can harm your teeth, as well as muscles and tissues in and around the jaw. The condition can be remedied with a nightguard.

Facts About Clenching & Grinding

Bruxism is most prevalent in women and generally found in about one-third of the population. Common symptoms of bruxism include a sore jaw, headaches, or earaches. Individuals who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, or aggression are most commonly affected. People with bruxism may also have other biting habits, such as biting fingernails, pencils, lips, or the insides of their cheeks.

Causes vary, but may include (but are not limited to):

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Tension
  • Misaligned teeth.

Constant clenching and grinding of the teeth cannot only cause the symptoms above but may also contribute to TMJ (temporomandibular joint) dysfunction, which has an extensive list of side effects associated with pain in the head and neck. Teeth rubbing together consistently will result in surface wear over time, causing dental problems. Insomnia, eating disorders, and depression can result from bruxism left untreated.

A Solid Solution

So, how do you stop an unconscious habit? A thorough evaluation will allow us to check your teeth, tissues, and muscles. If we determine that you suffer from bruxism, we’ll create an orthotic appliance (also known as a night guard or splint) to prevent grinding and clenching. Many types of night guards exist, and patients react differently to the various styles. If one appliance does not work, another may. In many cases, simply wearing a night guard will eliminate the problem. However, if the condition persists, we can prescribe alternative therapies to correct the issue.

Some practices that can relieve symptoms of bruxism:

  • Stress and anxiety management
  • Focused facial relaxation massage/stretching of face and neck muscles
  • Applying ice or wet heat
  • Proper rest
  • Eating soft foods
  • Hydrating the body

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