Nocturnal Tooth Grinding (Sleep Bruxism) Can Impact Your Quality Of Life

Do you grind your teeth at night or wake up with a headache or sore jaw. Are your teeth loose, broken, chipped or worn out.  If so, then you might have bruxism.

Millions of people grind their teeth during sleep. And around 5-10% of people have severe symptoms which can cause damage to the dental fillings, crowns or teeth.

Grinding, clenching or gnashing one’s teeth in an unconscious state is known as bruxism. It is categorized into two parts – sleep bruxism (occurring during sleep) and (occurring during wakefulness). Both these types of bruxism cause severe damage to the teeth. According to the latest research, It has been found that women are more prone to this problem as compared to males.

Sleep bruxism falls under the category of sleep-related movement disorders which is characterized by physical movement during sleep, which may be involuntary or uncontrollable. These arousals are often found in other sleep disorder patients such as snoring and sleep apnea.

Causes of Sleep Arousal

Doctors are still unsure of the exact reasons of bruxism although there is evidence to suggest that it is linked to sleep-related arousals in which the respiratory systems and heart show a rise in activity. These arousals usually take place around 15 times during sleep and are often accompanied by an enhanced muscle activity such as in jaw, which could be the source of teeth grinding. Bruxism is often found in persons suffering from sleep apnea. Other sleep disorders associated with bruxism include sleep talking (somniloquy), sleep paralysis and REM sleep behavior disorder.

Psychological causes

According to a study, around 70% of bruxism cases are the result of anxiety, stress, mental disorder and intense emotions. It is often discovered in aggressive, hyperactive and competitive individuals. Bruxism is also used as a coping strategy in order to deal with stress and anxiety. People indulge in lip biting, tooth tapping, object biting/chewing and cheek biting when they nervous.

Other causes of Bruxism 

Physical conditions that lead to bruxism include an abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth and a stomach acid reflux in the esophagus. Use of psychoactive medicines for anxiety and depression as well as consumption of tobacco, alcohol and caffeine may aggravate problems of sleep bruxism among individuals. After the use of these substances, a person experiences frequent sleep interruptions at night.

Treatment for Bruxism

Moderate symptoms of bruxism may lead to problems such as a headache, teeth damage and jaw pain. You need to visit a sleep specialist if you experience disturbed sleep, pain, discomfort or damage to your teeth.

Different treatment methods for sleep bruxism

 Sleep Study

Your sleep specialist may help you to help you to find out the real reason of bruxism. You can reduce the symptoms of bruxism with obstructive sleep apnea.

Therapies and Medications

Treatment of Teeth grinding caused due to stress, mood disorders or anxiety could relieve symptoms of bruxism.

  • Relaxation techniques and stress management can help relieve in teeth grinding
  • Behavior therapy for ex-practicing jaw and mouth positions can help you to stop grinding your teeth.
  • Use of muscle relaxants before retiring to bed can reduce the likelihood of jaw muscle tension.

Get in touch with a dentist for dental appliances

If you grind teeth at night, you must seek the advice of a dentist. He may ask you about health, habits and other factors which may reveal the source of your bruxism. Use of a dental appliance can prevent damage to your teeth. Mouth guards and splints are the most recommended appliances for controlling bruxism. Mandibular Advancement devices ( MAD) are also effective in the treatment of bruxism.

If you have bruxism  (or any related sleep disorder), you can take the help of a sleep specialist for the treatment of your problem. He may prescribe some prescription sleeping pills for the treatment of this disorder.