What Is Bruxism And How To Cope With It

how to cope with Bruxism
Jaw pain is never fun – how to cope with Bruxism

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth, usually unconsciously or while asleep. Bruxism is most common in children and young adults, but it can affect people at any age. Mild bruxism may not require treatment, but when teeth grinding and clenching occurs regularly, it can damage your teeth, lead to jaw disorders, headaches or other problems.

Why Do People Grind Their Teeth?

There is no single reason for what causes bruxism, but it is commonly associated with emotions such as anxiety and stress. Crooked teeth with poor alignment commonly referred to as occlusal disease can also contribute to a habit of bruxism.  Finally, bruxism can be a side effect of certain prescription medication, particularly anti-depressants

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

Because bruxism usually occurs during sleep, most people are not aware that they have been clenching and grinding their teeth. What are some signs and symptoms to look out for?

  1. Worn tooth enamel and flattened teeth
  2. Tight jaw muscles
  3. Pain in the neck, face or jaw
  4. Headaches
  5. Ear pain
  6. Tooth pain and sensitivity
  7. Clicking or popping of the jaw
  8. Gum recession and bone loss
  9. Scalloping of the tongue or indentations on the inside of the cheeks

Tips For Dealing With Bruxism

Regular clenching and grinding put a significant strain on the mouth and jaw, causing the neck muscles to be aggravated. Managing this pain is an important part of the treatment for bruxism.

  • Avoid hard foods like nuts
  • Do not chew gum
  • Apply heat to the affected muscles
  • Massage the jaw muscles
  • Find ways to destress (meditation, exercise, etc.)

Mouth exercises can also help reduce the pain caused by bruxism.

Put your hand under your chin, open your mouth while applying resistance with your hand, hold for 10-15 seconds, and relax.  Repeat this exercise several times a day for about 5 minutes.

Splint Therapy & Night Guards.

While home exercises and preventions help, it is always important to consult your dentist to recommend optimal treatment. Dental splints and nightguards help ease muscle tension, stabilize the jaw, reduce premature enamel wear, and reduce gum recession and bone loss. Bruxism appliances can be worn anytime but are most commonly worn at nighttime.

Low-Level Laser Therapy.

The application of low-level lasers by a certified dental professional over the affected muscles can also provide relief from jaw pain and help relax the muscles.