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Bruxism is the medical terminology for teeth grinding. A person with bruxism clenches their teeth while sleeping and it happens unconsciously. It doesn’t require treatment if it’s mild, but needs to be treated when it happens regularly and in excess to avoid dental problems in the future.

Symptoms of bruxism

Bruxism occurs more often in children and goes away as they grow. Adults who lead a stressed lifestyle and are addicted to tobacco and drugs are more likely to have bruxism. Excessive grinding of teeth can cause:

  • Wearing, decay and change in anatomy of teeth
  • Earache and headache
  • Sensitivity of teeth
  • Pain in chewing food
  • Roughness in tongue
  • Chronic facial and jaw pain and soreness

When to see a doctor?

If your child grinds teeth and you notice other symptoms associated, then you must consult a doctor. For adults, make sure you get a medical check up done on observing teeth problems, jaw pain, etc. along with clenching of teeth.

What causes bruxism?

  • Hyperactivity in children
  • Sleeping disorders
  • Anxiety, stress, anger, and emotional problems
  • Aggressive and violent streak
  • Deformity of teeth like crooked teeth
  • Side effects of medicines for psychological problems

Is bruxism harmful?

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Chronic teeth grinding can result in tooth fracture and tooth loss for which you may need dental repairs and dental ornaments. It can also lead to temporomandibular disorders.

Diagnosis of bruxism

A thorough dental exam is required to diagnose bruxism. Initially, the doctor will evaluate the symptoms and complications you are experiencing. You need to explain him your lifestyle, the medicines you might be taking, your sleeping pattern, etc.

Your partner may let your doctor know how severe the bruxism is when you sleep.

Your doctor will further check for presence of dental problems (tooth fractures, decay, sensitivity, etc.), jaw disorders (TMJ disorders), earache, etc. You may need to undergo oral X-ray if any such abnormality is found.

Treatment of Bruxism

If it’s mild and dental abnormality is present, then treatment is usually not required.

Your dentist might give you a customized mouth guard to protect your teeth from grinding and prescribe muscle relaxants.

Other strategies involve treating the underlying cause (like correcting tooth alignment, treating jaw disorders, etc.) that lead to grinding.

Alternative Treatment for Bruxism

Alternative treatments are very effective in getting rid of bruxim. They are:

  • Stress management- Getting rid of stress and anxiety through lifestyle management, relaxation therapies (yoga, meditation, massage, etc.) and stress counselling.
  • Behaviour management- Correct positing of the mouth, jaw, lips and tongue while sleeping to prevent grinding teeth against each other. You can visit a physical therapist to learn mouth stretching exercises for bruxism.

Home remedies for bruxism symptoms

  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Get rid of smoking and chewing addictive tobacco products, drugs, etc.
  • Make sure your child doesn’t chew pencils, pen, chalk, etc
  • Apply warm washcloth compress over sore jaws and near the earlobe
  • Avoid having stimulating drinks like coffee, tea, alcohol in the evening or night

Parents must observe their kid’s sleeping pattern and ensure that the symptoms are improving. Bruxism when addressed properly gets cured.

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Written by: Saptakee sengupta
Date last updated: January 19, 2015