What is Bruxism?
Do you wake up with sore jaw muscles or a headache?
You may be suffering from Bruxism – the grinding and clenching of teeth which can be a habit a person is not even aware they do. Bruxism often occurs during sleep and a person may only become aware that they are doing it when someone else comments on the awful grinding noise they make. During a routine dental check-up the dentist or oral health therapist may comment if your teeth are worn or chipped and ask other questions to find out if you suffer from aches in your jaw, head, neck or face as well as check for any ‘clicking’ in the jaw joints.
How is Bruxism treated?
By doing a thorough examination and asking many questions to determine the potential cause of the bruxism, level of damage to the teeth and/or level of pain being suffered your dentist may suggest the following treatments:-
- Wearing a ‘night guard’ – an appliance you wear while sleeping which is custom made for you. This appliance is worn over the upper teeth and protects them from grinding against the lower teeth – this helps limit the damage from bruxism but is not a cure.
- Relaxation techniques – everyday stress is a major cause of bruxism, and sometimes a person is not aware of their own level of stress. Relaxing activities such as meditation, listening to music, reading, and taking a warm bath can all be helpful. If the stress level is severe seeking help from a counsellor to learn effective ways of managing stress may be appropriate.
- Applying a warm, wet washcloth to the side of your face may help relax the sore muscles from clenching.
- The dentist will also check your bite to see if the way your teeth fit together could be causing bruxism and treat as necessary to help even your bite.
It is important to have any symptoms of bruxism investigated as it can damage the teeth which can become painful or loose. Also, the jaw joint can suffer damage/pain long-term (temporomandibular joint disorder).
Bruxism in Children
Often parents are aware their children grind their teeth at night which can cause the child (and parents) to have sleep disturbances. This lack of good quality sleep can cause the child to be anxious, stressed and have behavioural issues such as hyperactivity.
What causes Bruxism in children
- Mouth-breathing – due to large tonsils/adenoids causing upper airway obstruction
- obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
- problems with teeth – crowding, dental occlusion
- stress or psychological problems
If your child is having issues with teeth grinding please consult your dentist or oral health therapist who will be able to advise or possible treatments and/or referral to a specialist if required.