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Grinding your teeth? Could be bruxism

Bruxism is the medical term for a condition in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth. In most cases, people are not even aware they are doing it. Grinding or clenching may occur during the day or at night during sleep. In many...


Bruxism is the medical term for a condition in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth. In most cases, people are not even aware they are doing it. Grinding or clenching may occur during the day or at night during sleep. In many instances, bruxism is very mild and does not require any form of treatment. However, in severe cases, chronic teeth clenching or grinding may lead to headaches, teeth damage and jaw disorders.

The signs and symptoms of bruxism can vary from person to person. However, the most common include loud teeth grinding or clenching, worn down or flattened teeth, jaw pain and earaches, headaches or damage to the cheeks and tongue.

The exact cause of bruxism is not completely understood at this time. It is thought that it is caused by a combination of physical and psychological factors. Chronic anxiety, stress or tension are thought to be major components of bruxism.

Also, people who have an aggressive or competitive personality type also seem to be more at risk of developing this condition. To add to this, lack of sleep or sleep problems may increase a person’s chances. As you can see, professional truck drivers may have many of the common risk factors. Finally, dental problems such as abnormal alignment of teeth may cause uneven pressure thus leading to grinding.

Although bruxism rarely leads to serious complications, it can cause other physical issues that are very uncomfortable. Tension-type headaches are caused when the muscles in the jaw, head and neck become strained and fatigued due to the constant contraction. Consequently, this leads to tightness and pain in the muscles. Another possible complication of bruxism is temporomandibular joint disorders. This occurs when the jaw joints located just in front of your ear are injured causing dysfunction and pain.  

It is important to consult your doctor or dentist if you experience any of the above signs and symptoms, or if others complain that you make a grinding noise while you are asleep. During the examination your health care professional will look for signs of clenching and grinding or changes in your teeth and mouth.

If the professional suspects that your bruxism is caused by a psychological issue, they may make a referral to a therapist or councillor. They may also make a referral to a sleep specialist if they feel a sleep related disorder is present.

In most cases, formal treatment is not necessary, as most people do not grind or clench their teeth severely enough to require treatment. However, if treatment is necessary, it is usually aimed at addressing the underlying causes. Stress management therapies such as meditation, exercise and relaxations techniques are commonly used. If the cause of the bruxism is a dental issue, therapeutic appliances such as splints and mouthguards may be prescribed.

There are a few home remedies that can be used to prevent or treat mild bruxism. First, try to reduce stress in your life. Next, avoid consuming stimulating substances such as coffee, tea or alcohol during the evening. Finally, attend regular dental examinations.


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