• Atoosa H. Bigvand

Bruxism: Teeth Grinding and its Management

Updated: Aug 8


Bruxism (teeth grinding) is a condition where individuals grind, gnash, or clench their teeth. The clenching of teeth can occur when individuals are awake (awake bruxism) or involve the clenching or grinding of teeth when they are asleep (sleep bruxism).


Sleep bruxism is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth during their sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders such as snoring and pauses in their breathing (sleep apnea).


Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding, and so can anger and frustration. Bruxism is also common in children. Kids might grind their teeth for a few reasons, including teeth that aren't aligned properly, pain from an earache or teething, or stress from worry about a test or a change in routine. Additionally, the sleep-related movement disorder can be associated with other mental health and neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson's disease, medical conditions like dementia and epilepsy, night terrors, sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).


Recently, due to the pandemic-related stressful lifestyle, and a lack of work and life balance, bruxism has increased among people. According to the ADA (American Dental Association), a Health Policy survey of dentists found that 70% of respondents said they’ve seen an increase in the number of patients with teeth grinding.


Bruxism in some individuals can be frequent and severe enough to cause jaw disorders (Temporomandibular Joint TMJ pain), headaches, tooth attrition (the loss of tooth structure or tissue caused by tooth-on-tooth contact), damage to the teeth, and other problems. Therefore, proper management of the disorder is to be considered.


Management


In short, there are some self-management techniques to mitigate bruxism. For instance, taking steps to relieve stress (meditation, mindfulness, walking, and exercise) and practicing good sleep habits (regular exercise, a healthy diet, avoiding alcohol, and limiting caffeine) can be useful.


However, seeking medical care is advised to avoid further complications. There are dental approaches such as splints and mouth guards. They can be constructed out of hard acrylic or soft material (Ethylene Vinyl Acetate), fitting over the upper and lower teeth. These approaches are designed to keep the teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching them against each other.


Further care is taking place for cases involving sensitivity and tooth wear. Other management techniques can include muscle relaxants, Botulinum toxin injections, sleep apnea treatments, and medication for anxiety or stress, which are only meant to be used under the supervision of a doctor or health specialist.

 

Speaking Plainly:

  • Bruxism (teeth grinding) is a condition where individuals grind, gnash, or clench their teeth. There are two types of teeth grinding, sleep and awake bruxism.

  • Bruxism needs to be properly managed otherwise it can cause further complications. It is advised that patients suffering from bruxism visit their doctor to seek medical guidance.

  • Proper bruxism management can include dental splints and night guards, anxiety management, implementation of good sleep habits, sleep apnea treatment, and other medications, which require professional consultation and advice.