Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a condition in which you grind, clench, or snap your teeth. You may perform this action unconsciously while you are awake or even during sleep.
Mild bruxism does not need medication or treatment. However, bruxism is quite frequent in some people and severe enough to lead to headaches, destroyed teeth, and jaw dysfunctions. Therefore, it is necessary to know the causes and signs of bruxism so you can seek dental care.
What Causes Bruxism?
In most cases, bruxism is a result of anxiety or stress. Many people are not aware of the fact that they grind their teeth as most do it during sleep.
Bruxism can also be a side effect of taking certain kinds of medicine. In particular, the disease is sometimes linked to SSRI antidepressants. Examples of SSRIs include sertraline, paroxetine, and fluoxetine.
If you have a sleep disorder such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or have a snoring habit, you are more likely to grind your teeth while you sleep because these problems disrupt your breathing. You're also more likely to grind your teeth if you behave violently during sleep (kicking or punching), talk or mumble, or have sleep paralysis (a temporary inability to move or speak while waking up or falling asleep). If you experience hallucinations where you see or hear things that are not real while being semi-conscious, you are also likely to grind your teeth.
Dental Treatments for Bruxism
Not everyone with bruxism needs treatment, but those with severe bruxism and frequent symptoms of jaw pain, headache, and disturbed sleep need to consider several treatment options:
Sometimes called a night guard or dental splint, a mouth guard is a device worn during sleep to combat bruxism. It is a mouthpiece that holds the jaw in a certain position and provides a barrier to prevent tooth damage due to grinding. Some guards can place your jaw in a slightly open position and allow the chewing muscles to relax while you are asleep.
A night guard may be placed over the full set of your top or bottom teeth. In some cases, it just covers a smaller section of your mouth. Some mouth guards are available at pharmacies and drugstores and can be adjusted to fit your mouth. However, many patients prefer getting custom mouthpieces molded by dentists.
In severe cases of bruxism, your healthcare provider may consider medication. Medications for bruxism may not be very effective and can have potential side effects. Healthcare professionals recommend several types of medications, including Botox injections. These work by decreasing the activity in the facial muscles.
If you're experiencing aches in your jaw, mouth, or neck from grinding your teeth, you should speak to a dentist. Bruxism can cause serious harm to your oral and sleep health, and a healthcare professional can help prevent more serious problems down the road. Call (281) 550-9054 today to schedule a consultation with Kevin Nail, DDS Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today.