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What is Bruxism (Bruxism)?

Bruxism is a condition in which a person clenches, grinds or presses their teeth together. People with teeth grinding may involuntarily clench their teeth while awake or clench or grind their teeth during sleep. Sleep teeth grinding is also called a sleep-related movement disorder. It is often thought to be caused by psychological factors such as stress, anxiety and worry.

Teeth clenching or grinding during sleep increases the risk of different sleep disorders, such as snoring and breathing pauses (sleep apnea). In addition, clenching can be severe enough to cause jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other problems in some people. A person can recognize this condition when some complications occur. For this reason, it is important for people to be informed about the subject, to know the symptoms and to maintain regular dental care in terms of oral and dental health.

Symptoms of Bruxism (Tooth Grinding)

Teeth grinding can occur when the person is awake or during sleep. In addition to teeth clenching, grinding or jaw clenching, the symptoms of Bruxism (teeth clenching) are as follows:

  • Face, neck and jaw pain
  • Increased tooth sensitivity,
  • Cracking, flattening, loosening or breaking of teeth
  • Chewing-induced damage to the inside of the cheek
  • Headache
  • Ear pain
  • Sleep disturbance

People with any of the above symptoms are recommended to see a specialist doctor or dentist. It is also important to get support from a specialist if it is seen in children.

Why does bruxism (tooth clenching) occur?

The causes of bruxism (teeth clenching) are not known exactly. However, medical experts believe that some hereditary, physical and psychological factors are effective in the emergence of this condition.
Teeth grinding is thought to be caused by emotional states such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. It may also be a coping strategy or habit of the person to cope with the situation during an intense focusing process.
Smoking, alcohol and some substance use can also cause this condition. The use of different medications such as antidepressants due to psychological problems can also be seen among the causes.
Teeth grinding is common in children and young people, especially during sleep. This condition can usually improve spontaneously in adulthood.

Bruxism (Teeth Grinding) Risk Factors

Some factors can increase the risk of teeth grinding in a person. The conditions among the risk factors of bruxism (teeth clenching) can be listed as follows:
Increased anxiety, anxiety, or exposure to stress can increase the risk of teeth grinding. It can also occur when a person is particularly angry or frustrated.
Since it is more common in young children, age groups are also among the risk factors. Most of the time it disappears in adulthood.
Personality Types
People with a hyperactive, competitive or aggressive personality type may be more at risk of clenching or grinding their teeth.
Medicines and Different Substances
It can be a rare side effect of some psychiatric medications such as antidepressants. Smoking, drinking alcohol, caffeinated beverages or certain drugs can be among the causes and risk factors of clenching.
Genetic Factors
Having family members who have had this problem in the past may increase the risk of it occurring in other family members. Therefore, people with a family history of this problem are more prone.
In addition, clenching may be linked to a number of mental disorders such as Parkinson's disease, dementia, different sleep disorders such as sleep apnea, attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity disorder. These diseases or disorders may be among the risk factors.

Complications of Bruxism (Tooth Grinding)

In most cases, teeth grinding does not cause serious and important complications. However, here are some of the complications that can occur as a result of severe teeth grinding:

  • Damage to teeth requiring fillings or restoration
  • Severe headaches
  • Severe facial or jaw pain
  • Disorders in the jaw joints
  • Clicking sound when opening and closing the mouth

Diagnosis of Bruxism (Bruxism)

Since teeth clenching, grinding or pressing against each other often occurs during sleep, it is not possible for people to recognize this condition. The diagnosis of bruxism (clenching) is usually made after the person visits a dentist and undergoes an examination due to oral problems or toothaches. In addition, since this condition may be caused by psychological factors, support from a specialist psychologist or psychiatrist should also be sought.
When the diagnosis of teeth clenching is detected by the dentist, the underlying cause of the disease is tried to be determined by asking the patient some questions about dental health and oral care, medications, lifestyle and sleep habits.
During the diagnostic process, some examinations are performed by the dentist to determine how far the disease has progressed or in what condition it is. In particular, the sensitivity of the person's jaw muscle, missing or broken teeth, damage to the inside of the cheeks can be determined with the help of X-rays.

How does bruxism (tooth clenching) go away?

Most of the time, bruxism improves spontaneously without the need for any treatment. However, in some severe cases, it may be necessary to prevent clenching and treat the underlying causes of this condition. This condition, which is especially seen in young children, passes and heals spontaneously in adulthood with the advancement of age.

How is bruxism (tooth clenching) treated?

In severe cases, bruxism (clenching) treatment usually involves some approaches, therapies and medications to prevent tooth damage that may occur and to control jaw pain or problems. The appropriate treatment or approach for an individual or young child with this condition can be determined by a specialist doctor or dentist.
For sleep problems such as sleep apnea, the patient is referred to a sleep medicine specialist. The sleep medicine specialist may order a test such as a sleep study to determine whether the person has sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.
If the doctor determines that the condition is caused by other psychological problems such as anxiety, stress and worry, the person will be referred to a therapist or counselor. Stress or anxiety management can help to alleviate the clenching. In addition, the person can be taught some meditation techniques to prevent clenching that occurs after stress.
During the treatment and approaches, the specialist may make some suggestions for the person or child to protect or improve their teeth. However, these suggestions only prevent wear and tear in the mouth and may not stop the clenching. Some people may also be fitted with splints and mouth guards to prevent the damage caused by clenching.
In advanced cases, tooth sensitivity, tooth wear and chewing problems may result in the need for a dentist to repair or correct the teeth. Generally, drug treatment is not very effective in many cases. However, there are some muscle relaxants that patients can use for this condition.
In order to control the psychological factors of this condition, the doctor may recommend the use of certain antidepressant medications. These medications are only prescribed and recommended by a doctor.

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Updated Date:27 February 2024Creation Date:18 September 2023