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Bruxism Questions Answered!

Updated on May 24, 2011

Bruxism Questions...

If you've found this hub then you have questions about bruxism. You have questions about what bruxism is, what causes it,what are the symtoms of bruxism, and what treatment options are available to you. I promise to give you as much information on the subject as I can and if I don't have the answer to all of your questions, lead you to a website that can! Okay, let's get to it!

What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. This condition affects more than a million people worldwide. It is also one of the most common sleep disorders. So don't feel like you are alone. Believe it or not, everyone has experienced this condition in their life at least once.

Most of the people who have bruxism experience the teeth grinding at night, while asleep. A small percentage grind their teeth during the day! The weird thing about this condition is that some of the people who have bruxism, don't even know that they have it! So they go on about their daily lives without knowing until it's too late.

Bruxism, left uncorrected will lead to even more problems. It can lead to headaches, migraines, sleep disorders including sleep apnea and insomnia. Bruxism can also lead to back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, eating disorders, depression even vertigo!

Bruxism Causes...

What Causes Bruxsim?

That is a very good question, and there are a lot of very good answers. Bruxism can be caused by a multitude of things. I'll try to name the most common causes of this condition.

Stress

Stress is considered by many to be the number one cause of many diseases and conditions. But it also plays a major part in causing bruxism. Because of this doggie-dog, get-it-now, should-have-been-done-yesterday world that we live, it's no wonder that stress is a major factor in so many ailments. In the bruxer, (person with bruxism) this stress manifests itself at night when he/she is asleep. That eerie tooth grinding sound can be heard for most of the night! I know about this sound first hand growing up!

My younger brother would grind his teeth all night, and it was unfortunate for me because I had to sleep with him! Being the kid that I was, I thought that if I hit him then that would make him change sleeping position, and he would be quiet! I would punch him, kick him, elbow him, all in a desperate attempt to just shut him up! It worked for about 3 seconds...and then he went back to grinding his teeth again! Eventually I learned to zone him out altogether. he's the reason why it doesn't matter how loud it is, I can still be be able to get some sleep!

But the fact that he had bruxism at an early age doesn't explain where it came from. we were kids at the time, and I'm pretty sure that he had no stress of any kind to worry about! What does a kid know about stress? Absolutely nothing! This brings us to another cause...

Dental Defect

Sometimes a person's dental structure can contribute to bruxism. If the person has a serious misalignment of the lower jaw, (or malocclusion as it's called in the dental profession). This misalignment can lead to other health problems, including bruxism. This malocclusion puts undue pressure on the temporomandibular joint or TMJ, as its commonly called.

The TMJ is one of the most important joints in your face, if not your body. Without it, you won't be able to EAT!('nuff said!) Anyway, damage to this joint can lead to all kinds of other problems, but we'll discuss them later. That brings us to the other cause of bruxism...

Drugs/Medication

Certain drugs can cause bruxism. One particular family of drugs called SSRI's or Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor's, have been known to cause bruxism as a side effect. This class of drugs is given toward the treatment of personality disorders, anxiety disorders, and depression. So if your doctor has recently prescribed you any kind of antidepressant, and you think that you might be experiencing bruxism symptoms, that may be a reason why. he/she may be able to prescribe you a different medication to remedy this situation.

Bruxism Symptoms...

 As I said earlier, some of the people who have bruxism have no idea that they have it. That is because when these teeth grinding episodes occur, they are asleep. So the only one who suffers in the beginning is, their significant other. He/ she is the one who has to endure the sleepless nights. That eerie teeth grinding noise! (Believe me, once you've heard that noise, you don't want to hear it again!) But this brings up another question:

How do you know that you have bruxism if you have no significant other?

Here are some clues that will alert you that something is wrong.

1. Headaches, particularly in the morning. These headaches are the result of teeth grinding and pressure on the TMJ. This pressure will lead to pain that can resonate from your head asll the way down to your lower back!

2. Severely worn teeth, broken fillings. All of this from teeth grinding! Check out the picture above to see a severe case!

3. Face, Jaw and Neck Pain. All of this a result of the overstimulation and undue pressure put on the TMJ.

Now that we've covered some of the symptoms of bruxism, let's look at some of your treatment options.

 

Bruxism Treatments...

Like I said earlier, there are many causes of bruxism, so there are many treatments for bruxism. Because of this fact, there is no wrong way to treat the condition. Let's start off with the most dreaded...

Surgery.

First of all, I want to say that in no way do I condone not listening to a licensed physician's advice and diagnosis. I do advocate getting a second opinion. That being said,I would like to say that if your doctor recommends that you get surgery, then I would get a secpond opinion. If that doctor recommends the same thing, then I would do it.

If your bruxism has advanced to thte pointwhere you need surgery, then you have a major health risk present. Bruxism of this type is usually caused by a dental defect, and that defect has advanced to include major dental problems. These problems include serious damge to the TMJ.

Problems with the TMJ include:

Facial Pain.

A jaw that "locks" in the open or closed position.

Ear pain.

Headaches.

Clicking or "popping" sounds made when the lower jaw opens.

The TMJ is also associated with sleep apnea. Sleep Apnea is simply when the person stops breathing while asleep. This is caused by many factors, but the TMJ is involved also. (This joint is central in so many conditions, I would not be doing my duty if i did not tell you about it.) As you might remember, sleep apnea is one of the reasons blamed in the death of the late, great NFL player, Reggie White.

As you can see, bruxism, TMJ and sleep apnea are all related. If you have one , then you most likely have one or both of the other. So in my opinion, if your doctor recommends surgery to fix this problem, I would do it.

Mouthguards

Mouthguards, in my opinion are a temporary fix. In effect what happens is, your doctor recommends that you wear a mouthguard at night, and instead of grinding your teeth, you chew on the mouthguard. This approach does not address the stress that has built up in the TMJ. In some cases it has been reported that some of the people who have worn the mouthguards have chewed through them in about a week or two!

Exercises/Massages

Is there a such thing as bruxism exercises? Yes there is! And yes they do work! These exercises relieve the stress surrounding the TMJ. In some cases, the person's bruxism has been cured altogether! These exercises directly address the stress associated with this condition, and in many casese, if you address the stress, you address the condition.

Bruxism Exercises!

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    • profile image

      Melissa 

      6 years ago

      Thanks for posting. This is very helpful. I have bruxism with a severe headache and facial pain. I've been in constant pain for over a year, and the medication I take only helps a bit. These massages, are great. They decrease my pain even more. I have a headache that feels like a band around my head, and also a lot of neck, jaw and facial pain caused by my bruxism. If you could post some more massage techniques to help with this as well, I would really appreciate it.

    • Ellen_C profile image

      Ellen_C 

      9 years ago

      This is excellent! I grind my teeth at night and wore through a hard/soft night guard in a few months. The next time I got a completely hard one from my dentist and it will last me about a year or so before I chew through it. I am not sure why I grind my teeth but it is probably stress!

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