Do you clench teeth in anger or at times of stress? Some individuals unknowingly clench or grind their teeth against each other, which leads to tooth wear and sore facial muscles. We call clenching or grinding of teeth bruxism and bruxism is very common among children and adults today. Some people grind their teeth while asleep and unknowingly. Others grind their teeth during the daytime as well, most often during anxious situations. Severe teeth clenching can explain mysterious morning headaches, facial pain, tired jaw muscles and worn out teeth. Bruxism is linked to stress, and can also occur in patients on anti depressants.

What do we call a bruxer?

  • Some one who makes a grinding sound at night, which may disturb the sleep of someone who shares a bedroom
  • Complains of a dull morning headache
  • Has sore or painful jaw muscles, especially in the morning
  • Damaged teeth, fractured dental fillings

How is bruxism diagnosed?

The dental surgeon can ascertain whether you are a bruxer or not by examining your teeth and palpating the ear joint and facial muscles. A complete history of your medical issues, medications, lifestyle and diet would be taken. We ask around, your partner or family members (anyone who shares the room with the patient at night) for any unusual grinding sounds. Missing teeth, broken teeth, worn out teeth, poor tooth alignment would be looked out for. A bad bite brings disbalance and disharmony between the teeth, ear joint and facial muscles causing a plethora of symptoms. Treatment is recommended after analyzing the clinical features. Bruxism can last for many years if it is related to a stressful life situation that does not go away.

How do we treat Bruxism ?

A night guard is given to the patient. This is to be worn at night and will prevent tooth damage. However, if bruxism is being caused by a dental problem, it should stop when the teeth are repaired and realigned .

  • Stress —Professional counseling and psychotherapy is advised for stress related bruxism. Muscle relaxant medications would be prescribed for sore muscles.
  • Dental problems — If your bruxism is related to tooth problems, your dentist will probably treat it with occlusal therapy (to correct tooth alignment). In severe cases, your dentist may need to use onlays or crowns to entirely reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth.
  • Medication — If you develop bruxism as a side effect of antidepressant medications, your doctor either can switch you to a different drug or give you another medication to counteract your bruxism.

Bruxism can also occur in children but they usually stop grinding their teeth by 13 years of age. A night bite plate to prevent excessive tooth wear can be worn by the child till then. Grinding of teeth should not be ignored and left untreated. Excessive forces on teeth damage and weaken them leading to premature tooth loss. Treatment of excessively worn out teeth requires a comprehensive treatment consisting of root canals, fillings, onlays and crowns to rehabilitate the damaged teeth. Prevention is always better than cure, hence visit your dental surgeon today if you think you could be a bruxer and save future complications.

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