Studies have shown that 1 in 3 American adults suffer from bruxism, or excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching. There are two types - awake and sleep bruxism. What follows is a high-level rundown on sleep bruxism.
Signs and symptoms of sleep bruxism, which occur primarily during sleep arousal stages, include:
- Grinding or Tapping Noises
- Excessive Tooth Wear and Fractures
- Tooth Soreness and Movement
- Hypersensitive Teeth
- Jaw Pain and Soreness
Diagnosing sleep bruxism has long posed a challenge to doctors and patients. While a dentist will provide a comprehensive diagnosis, patients can also detect symptoms in a number of ways:
- Self-Diagnosis: patients often detect their own symptoms such as tooth mobility and wear, hypersensitivity, mouth abrasions, and jaw muscle soreness
- Feedback From Others: the most common form of diagnosis is through feedback from housemates and loved ones. Be proactive and ask your mates about the frequency and intensity of your grinding.
- Mobile App Technology: a number of sound-activated mobile apps can inform those that live and sleep alone.
The causes of sleep bruxism have been researched extensively:
- Occlusal Factors/Bite Configuration: occlusion is defined as ‘contact between teeth.’ Occlusal interferences (discrepancies with the normal path of the bite) were historically believed to be the sole cause of bruxism.
- Stress and Other Psychosocial Factors: while bruxism is generally thought to be caused by stress, evidence is still inconclusive. Emotional stress, including that caused by anxiety, frustration, aggressiveness, and hyperactivity has been closely examined.
- Medication: while not conclusive, certain drugs (dopamine agonists, dopamine antagonists, tricyclic antidepressants, selective serotonin re uptake inhibitors, alcohol, cocaine, and amphetamines) have been studied to cause bruxism
- Genetics: while genetic markers have not been identified, 21-50% of those with sleep bruxism have a direct family member who also had the condition
Management and treatment of bruxism includes solutions that both help manage bruxism activity but also the negative physical effects of it:
- Dental Guards or Occlusal Splints: offers protection of teeth against bruxism but does not reduce bruxism activity
- Behavioral/Psychosocial Interventions: as bruxism is often driven by stress, various techniques that promote relaxation, stress management, behavioral modification, habit reversal and hypnosis have been found to be effective
- Dental Restoration: full coverage crowns are often necessary to repair or mediate damage caused by bruxism
- Medication: benzodiazepines, anticonvulsants, beta blockers, dopamine agents, antidepressants, muscle relaxants, amongst others have been used to treat/reduce bruxism
- Botox: diluted amounts of the toxin have been found to be effective in reducing bruxism for up to three months
- Occlusal Adjustment: some dentists attempt to reorganize the occlusal scheme in order to redistribute the impact of and damage caused by regular bruxism
For a much more detailed synopsis of bruxism check out the Wikipedia page.
To start preventing the effects of Bruxism and teeth grinding, check out enCore’s selection of Custom Night Guards