Have you ever woken up after a full night’s sleep to feel that your whole jaw was firmly held together?
Or that you felt pain in your jaws, especially in the area that is closest to your ears?
Or are you having increased sensitivity?
If so, how often does this happen to you?
Or, does your significant other ever wake you up during the night as they can hear grating or scraping sounds coming from you?
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is possible that you are grinding your teeth or have a habit of bruxism.
What is bruxism?
The functions of masticatory muscles, which primarily aid in chewing, may be categorized into two fundamental types:
- Functional, including chewing, speaking, and swallowing
- Parafunctional: include teeth clenching, gnashing, and grinding, as well as other oral behaviours known as Bruxism.
You may not be aware of your clenching and grinding habits since parafunctional activity occurs at a subconscious level.
Two categories of parafunctional activities are distinguished:
- occurring throughout the day (diurnal);
- occurring at night (nocturnal)
Diurnal activity is more closely related to occlusal conditions, increased emotional stress, or both. Whereas nocturnal bruxism is different it is influenced by emotional stress levels and sleep patterns.
How can you tell if you grind your teeth?
If you exhibit any of the following symptoms, you are likely grinding your teeth.
- Tiredness/Tightness of your jaw muscles
- Sore jaw
- Increased jaw pain particularly in the early morning due to increased tonicity of masticatory muscles
- Increased discomfort around your ears, but no ear-related issue
- Increased dull headaches
- Increase the sensitivity of your teeth
- Flat appearance of your teeth
- Clicking sound on opening or closing of your mouth
- Teeth grinding noises, which might wake up your sleeping companion
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms described above, you should make an appointment with your dentist
What causes people to grind their teeth?
There are a variety of factors that may be attributed to bruxism such as:
- Emotional stress, stressful life incidents, anxiety, depression, aggression, traumatic experience, study stress or exam pressure for students
- If you recently had a filling from a dentist that is high in occlusion
- Missing teeth
- Supraerupted teeth basically occur due to missing teeth, when missing teeth are not timely replaced by artificial teeth natural teeth supra erupted or move to the place of missing teeth, supraerupted teeth become center for grinding
- Painful or loose teeth
- According to research, those who sleep on their sides grind their teeth more than those who sleep on their backs.
- Increased caffeine intake
- Alcohol/tobacco abuse
- Taking certain medications such as antidepressants
- People have sleep disorders such as snoring or pauses in breathing (sleep apnea) or disturbed sleep patterns.
- Psychophysiological factors such as irritable bowel syndrome, premenstrual syndrome, interstitial cystitis and fibromyalgia.
How can you know whether you’re clenching or grinding your teeth?
Bruxism and clenching are both parafunctional habits that harm teeth and jaws and create facial and jaw muscle fatigue.
Clenching includes holding the teeth tightly together and straining the jaw muscles, while grinding involves moving the jaws with the teeth held together.
Clenching often occurs during the waking hours of the day.
The force exerted on the teeth during daytime clenching is much less than that associated with sleep-related bruxism.
Therefore, less damage to teeth e.g., tooth wear, fracture and mobility is expected.
How to manage daytime clenching?
The management is quite different from that of sleep-related bruxing.
To regulate your daytime clenching, you must first be aware of it; this is called as cognitive awareness.
Do not let your teeth come into a contact unless you are speaking or swallowing.
If you see your teeth touching while you are not chewing or swallowing, puff a little air between your lips and allow your jaw muscles to relax.
As you do this, establish a postural position with your tongue resting on the bottom of your mouth and your teeth parted.
This is an ideal rest posture since it reduces muscular activity and stress.
How can you avoid teeth grinding while sleeping?
Avoid coffee and alcohol at night.
Sleep early and stick to a consistent nighttime routine.
Change your sleeping posture and try sleeping on your back instead of your side.
Exercise and meditation might help you relax before going to bed.
Spend time resting before going to bed. Avoid using social media before going to bed.
Use a mouth guard prescribed by your dentist.
What is the treatment of bruxism?
The appropriate treatment for teeth grinding depends on the underlying cause.
- Dental solution
See your dentist so that he or she may completely assess your condition, teeth, temporomandibular joint, and muscles.
- If you have missing teeth, your dentist may recommend a bridge, implant, or removable prosthesis based on the state of your teeth.
- Grinding your supraerupted teeth to the level of the occlusal plane of the rest of your teeth and correcting your bite
- Grinding and finishing of your high occlusal fillings
- Soft occlusal splints or mouth guards that only need to be worn at night.
Although occlusal appliances may reduce the detrimental effects of tooth wear and help alleviate musculoskeletal discomfort, they cannot cure bruxism.
- Sleep solution:
Following a regular bedtime routine and staying away from caffeine before going to bed can help.
- Cognitive awareness:
Establishing an awareness of tooth contacts, muscle hyperactivity and emotional stress is essential to effective treatment.
- Voluntary avoidance:
When you find your teeth contacting, other than chewing, swallowing and speaking, immediately disengage them
Puff a little air between lips and teeth, which allows jaws to assume a relaxed position.
- Stress releasing mechanism:
Regular exercise, yoga and meditation are very effective in reducing stress.
Patients may need a referral to a Temporomandibular Joint specialist or sleep physician.