What is Sleep Bruxism?
Bruxism is the technical term for the gnashing or grinding of teeth. When it occurs at night, it is called sleep bruxism..
While normally mild, some cases can be more severe, leading to damaged teeth, jaw disorders, or other health problems that may require medical treatment. Because many people with sleep bruxism are unaware of the disorder, some don’t seek treatment until after adverse effects have begun to take their course.
The primary symptom of bruxism is repetitive teeth grinding. However, for someone who sleeps alone to recognize the condition, secondary symptoms will signify something is wrong:
- worn down teeth or enamel
- increased tooth sensitivity
- jaw pain
- chew marks on the inside of the cheek
- indentations of the tongue
In many cases, routine dental exams will reveal worn down or flattened teeth that may signal bruxism.
Bruxism Causes & Treatments
The causes of bruxism are still largely a mystery, though doctors have identified some stressors that can contribute to it. These factors include:
- changes in sleep patterns
- suppressed anger
- suppressed frustration
Bruxism is also more common in people with a competitive, aggressive, or hyperactive personality type. Children may grind their teeth in response to teething or an earache or because their jaw is growing. Bruxism can also be due to complications from other disorders: Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease. It can also be a side effect, although rare, of psychiatric medicines and some antidepressants.
While medication isn’t useful for bruxism, behavioral changes like behavioral therapy and stress management may help. Also, the use of mouth guards or splints to protect teeth may be used.