Bruxism is one of those conditions that has been diagnosed more and more often for about 30 years. Increasing levels of stress are blamed, but it is really hard to say what the root causes are. However, there is no doubt that bruxism has a negative impact not only on the comfort of life but also on the state of dental health.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is often referred to simply as teeth grinding. However, a strict definition requires clarification that during an attack of bruxism, we clench our jaws during sleep, so it is a condition classified as parasomnia. It is also included in the category of movement disorders within the masticatory system. Bruxism most often affects people aged 25-45, but the disease is more and more often diagnosed in the case of both children and the elderly.
Causes of bruxism
Bruxism may have various causes. However, while talking about direct causes, it is not known what the root cause is, although the genetic factor plays a role in the etiology. However, additional trigger stimuli are needed for the patient to develop this condition. These include:
- high level of stress: muscle tension increases, and during sleep, when the patient does not have full control over the musculoskeletal system, unconscious clenching of teeth may occur;
- malocclusion: patients with malocclusion grind their teeth unconsciously, wanting to get rid of the discomfort associated with improper mutual placement of the tooth surface;
- mineral deficiencies: it is postulated that the cause of teeth grinding may be a deficiency of magnesium or calcium, elements responsible for maintaining proper muscle tone;
- changes in the nervous system: dysfunction of the nervous system, which leads to hormonal imbalance, can cause all physiological symptoms of stress, including increased tension of the facial muscles;
- frequent gum chewing: it is believed that often chewing gum can manifest as reflex clenching of teeth also during sleep.
Bruxism may appear as a secondary disease in patients with poorly-fitted fillings or dentures. It is sometimes associated with addictions and may be a symptom of temporomandibular joint disease. Not all of these reasons are equally common, and today the impact of emotional imbalance on the increased risk of developing bruxism is strongly emphasized.
As bruxism intensifies during sleep, it is difficult to independently determine the occurrence of this condition based just on teeth grinding. Much more often, the first signs of an ongoing disease process may be:
- headaches (especially chronic headaches for which no other cause can be found);
- pain in or around the temporomandibular joints;
- increased incidence of dental and gum disease.
Sometimes mechanical damage to teeth or permanent degeneration of joints are also reported as symptoms of bruxism, but when such strong changes occur, it usually means that all previous signals have been missed.
Treatment of bruxism – methods
Some causes of teeth grinding may require a visit to a general practitioner or, for example, a psychologist (sedatives or behavioral and cognitive therapy will be helpful if stress is the underlying cause of the condition), However, very often the dentist plays the greatest role in the treatment of bruxism.
- Removing improperly placed restorations and replacing them with correct fillings can eliminate bruxism, as can correctly fitted bridges or crowns. Properly performed surgery in the field of dental prosthetics can protect against dangerous complications.
- Diagnosis and treatment of temporomandibular joint diseases also allows to eliminate teeth grinding during sleep and relieve muscle tension.
- Removal of malocclusion not only cures bruxism but above all is important in prevention. An abnormal bite is one of the most common causes of this disease.
- In some cases, a relaxation splint is used. It is a special overlay on the teeth of the jaw that protects the lower and upper teeth from rubbing against each other. It allows you to effectively counteract some of the consequences of bruxism.
Consequences of untreated bruxism – complications
Untreated bruxism has serious consequences and is associated with painful ailments not necessarily limited to the oral cavity.
- The effect of teeth clenching is an increased risk and more severe course of dental and periodontal diseases, as well as hypersensitivity of teeth and gums.
- Bruxism can lead to cracking of the enamel, which weakens the structure of the teeth and may, as a consequence, even lead to their cracking.
- Strong pressure can lead to tooth loss and adverse mandibular and maxillary bone remodeling over time.
- Temporomandibular joints may become permanently degenerated, and hearing loss or persistent headaches that do not respond to basic medications may occur.
Is it possible to cure bruxism with home remedies?
The only case in which bruxism can be cured with home methods is by using relaxation techniques on your own if tooth grinding is nerve-induced. However, since bruxism has already developed, it can be assumed that the patient will not be able to cope with such a problem on their own. If the causes are different, bruxism can only be treated in consultation with the appropriate doctor.
How to reduce pain caused by bruxism?
- Compresses – in principle, cold compresses are recommended as they are supposed to reduce inflammation, but some patients also respond well to warm compresses, especially if tight muscles are an issue.
- Gentle facial massage – relaxes muscles, allows you to relax, and reduces strong nervous tension.
- Painkillers – they can be used temporarily, but they do not treat the causes. In addition, nocturnal bruxism often causes persistent pain that does not go away with NSAIDs (non-steroidal inflammatory drugs)
Which specialist can treat bruxism?
The first point of contact should be a dentist who will assess the damage and will be able to act at the initial stage of the disease, preventing its progression. If you have a problem with bruxism, report to our clinic – we will be able to carry out a full diagnosis and create an appropriate action plan both in the initial stages of the disease and more advanced ones.