Did you know that bruxism affects over 10 million adults in the UK?
Bruxism is the term used for grinding or clenching your teeth involuntarily. When left untreated, bruxism can wear teeth down, cause neck and jaw pain and lead to long-term problems.
Read on to discover what bruxism is, the symptoms, and how to stop grinding your teeth.
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is characterised by grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw and is believed to affect around 10% of the population.
As we mentioned, if left untreated, bruxism can lead to several problems, including tooth breakage, disorders of the jaw, limited jaw movement and headaches. Bruxism can affect anyone, including children and adults, although it appears most common in 25–44-year-olds.
There are two main categories of teeth grinding; awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Awake bruxism involves clenching the teeth and jaw, often as a bracing reaction to certain stimuli or situations. It’s rare for awake bruxism to include teeth grinding.
Sleep bruxism involves automatic teeth grinding with rhythmic and sustained jaw muscle contractions while you’re asleep.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
As well as teeth grinding, other symptoms of bruxism include:
- Face, neck and shoulder pain
- A painful jaw (which can lead to temporomandibular disorder)
- Worn-down or broken teeth (which can cause increased sensitivity and loss of teeth)
- Disturbed sleep.
If you have any of the above symptoms and are concerned about your oral health, you should make an appointment with your dentist, who will assess your needs and offer advice.
It’s particularly beneficial to see your dentist if you grind your teeth and have damaged or sensitive teeth or if you’re experiencing pain in your jaw, face or ear.
What causes teeth grinding?
It’s not always clear what causes someone to grind their teeth. However, your dentist or doctor might try to get to the bottom of the cause for you.
For some people, teeth grinding is caused by stress and anxiety. In fact, it’s thought that this is the main cause of bruxism. However, it’s not the only cause, as sleep problems such as snoring or sleep apnoea could be causing you to grind your teeth.
If you take certain medications such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), smoke, drink a lot of alcohol or caffeine, or take drugs such as cocaine or ecstasy, then you might also be at a higher risk of developing bruxism.
How to stop grinding your teeth
Treatment for bruxism isn’t always necessary, especially when it comes to children and teenagers. Children and teenagers who grind their teeth often do it while asleep, but it usually stops when they reach adulthood, and their adult teeth come through.
However, if you’re concerned about your child grinding their teeth, book a dentist appointment and get professional medical advice.
That said, there are several treatment options that your dentist or doctor will suggest. Although there are no cures for bruxism, you could try
- Finding ways to relax and reduce your anxiety – you could try breathing exercises, listening to music and exercising regularly.
- Improving your sleep – having a nightly routine, such as going to bed at the same time every night, relaxing before bedtime and making sure your bedroom is dark and quiet can help you relax and get a better night’s sleep (which involves no teeth grinding).
- Having regular dental check-ups – this can ensure that any wear or tear your teeth experience is monitored and prevented.
- Using a mouth guard – some dentists might suggest using a mouth guard or mouth splint to protect your teeth and jaw while you sleep.
If you experience pain or swelling in your jaw, you might also be advised to take painkillers and use an ice pack to reduce swelling and prevent pain.
Your dentist or doctor will also advise you not to smoke, drink too much alcohol, take recreational drugs, chew gum, or eat hard foods, as these can all worsen bruxism.
Bring your teeth grinding to a halt
Bruxism can damage your teeth and confidence, and although there’s no specific cure, there are various treatments you can try to bring your teeth grinding to a halt and prevent any oral problems.
If you’re experiencing teeth grinding, our team of experienced dentists can help you take control of your teeth and put a stop to bruxism. Get in touch with us today to discuss your bruxism, and we’ll take care of the rest for you.