The Basics of Bruxism

Bruxism refers to excessive grinding of the teeth or clenching of the jaw muscles. These actions are performed habitually and unconsciously, and although they can happen during waking hours, bruxism often occurs during asleep.

What Are Some Signs of Bruxism?

Perhaps not surprisingly, bruxism can cause disrupted sleep. Because the grinding sounds can be loud enough to wake someone from sleep, an individual’s sleep partner might also be disturbed. Grinding the teeth can cause them to become chipped, flattened, fractured, or loose, and the enamel can appear worn. Pain may be felt in the teeth as well as in the jaws, face, or neck. The jaws might also feel tight or tired, and the inside of the cheeks might show damage from repeated chewing movements. People can also experience dull headaches originating in the temples and near the ears as a result of bruxism.

How Can Dentists Help?

During a dental visit, a dentist can examine a patient’s teeth and mouth and decide if a diagnosis of  bruxism is appropriate. The dentist can also determine the cause of the condition, evaluate the severity of the bruxism, and repair any teeth that have been damaged due to grinding. To avoid further damage, dentists might prescribe mouth guards or splints. Some practitioners, such as those who offer Park Slope dental services, can provide Botox injections to treat the condition.

What Causes Bruxism?

Bruxism can occur for a variety of reasons. Anxiety and stress and can play a role, especially if the grinding or clenching takes place when the person is awake, and sleep disorders can make a contribution to bruxism that happens during sleep. Other causes include having crooked teeth, missing teeth, or a bite that is abnormal. Using tobacco and consuming alcohol have also been associated with teeth grinding. In addition, certain medications can induce bruxism as a side effect.

Can Children Be Affected?

Children, too, can have bruxism. Some possible reasons for teeth grinding in children include having allergies, teeth that are misaligned, and irritation in the mouth. As with adults, a dentist can offer information and recommendations.