An Introduction To Bruxism

You’re nervous and you’re jaw is sore. Does that sound familiar? I know exactly where you’re coming from, I clench my teeth when I’m stressed and nervous more than I care to admit. It might even be affecting my sleep and I might be suffering from a condition called bruxism. What is bruxism? It’s a teeth grinding and clenching condition.

Common Causes of Bruxism:

  • Stress. I’d say this is the most common cause of bruxism, but everyone is different. The amount of stress you’re under induces coping that can take in the form of teeth clenching and grinding. Do you notice that your jaw feels a little sore after a big presentation?
  • Misalignment of the jaw. Bruxism can be cause by the misalignment of your lower jaw. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD), which is a condition that can affect your chewing, give you headaches, and hear a clicking noise from opening and closing your mouth.
  • Prescription drugs. A side effect to antidepressant prescription drugs. Your doctor may change your medicine if bruxism is affecting your sleep.

Symptoms of Bruxism:

If you are waking up with a headache or feel like your jaw is sore, you may be exhibiting symptoms of bruxism. It is not uncommon that teeth grinding and clenching occurs during sleep so loss of sleep is a possible symptom of bruxism. In severe cases of bruxism, patients can experience tooth fracturing, loosening, or even lose teeth.

Bruxism Treatment Guide:

  • Wear a mouthguard to sleep. Yeah, you probably went to your oral surgeon’s office and he probably told you this already. But if you haven’t tried to wear a mouthguard, you will never know if it can help. Like all things, it will take some time to adjust. Mouthguards are recommended because they work. Might I recommend the SleepRight Dental Guard? Their mouthguards have generated pretty good reviews and they also come in three different types to serve your specific needs.
  • Get plenty of sleep. It is probably easier said than done, especially if you’re experiencing bruxism, but getting the recommended 7-8 hour sleep is important. Something I would suggest doing is to create a “winding down” routine. Take 30 to 45 minutes before you go to bed to prepare your body for bed. Get your body relaxed and ready for sleep that might reduce the teeth grinding and clenching.
  • Try some relaxation techniques. Actually set aside some time to actively relax your face and try to make it a habit. Massaging your face, jaw, and neck can relieve some of that tension you feel and reduce the teeth clenching. Reduce your stress by taking a walk every now and then or take some more time to experience your hobbies and interests. Listen to your body, take a break when you need to.
  • Take a chance on a book about bruxism. Maybe do this before you go to the oral surgeon or maybe you can ask your oral surgeon- but doing some reading about bruxism and other treatments may be a good idea. You’re reading about bruxism right now, but this is just a blog post giving you a synopsis. There are several books that give  further background, advice, and more at-home treatments for you to try before scheduling oral surgery.

Zane Schwarzlose is a writer at Fahrenheit Marketing, an Austin web design company. Zane is glad he doesn’t have bruxism.