Expert Tips To Stop Sleep Bruxism

Bruxism, referred to as clenching or grinding of the teeth, can be stopped using mouthguards and mandible stretching exercises.

Varun Verma
Written by: Varun VermaUpdated at: Dec 24, 2022 11:00 IST
Expert Tips To Stop Sleep Bruxism

Bruxism is referred to the condition of clenching or grinding of the teeth. It is the unconscious and involuntary excessive grinding, tapping or clenching of teeth. Bruxism, also commonly known as sleep or nocturnal bruxism, is purely an unconscious or involuntary action. But the people who have the tendency to brux in the daytime are known as diurnal or wakeful bruxism. To learn more about bruxism and its prevention tips, the OnlyMyHealth editorial team talked to Dr Kishkindha (BDS), based in Ludhiana, Punjab.

What Causes Bruxism?

In bruxism, pressure is exerted on the teeth and the periodontium. The basic cause is occlusion disturbances, which means that the teeth are unable to occlude properly. There is a malocclusion or the asymmetrical presence of the teeth. 

It can also be caused due to systemic problems like issues in the gastric area (gastrointestinal disturbances), any nutritional deficiency, endocrinal disturbances, or if you suffer from allergy. It could also be due to psychological factors like emotional tension, stress, rejection, and fear.

"Bruxism can also occur in precision workers, for example, who make watches or in people who use a toothpick or pencil for scratching their teeth," she added.

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Clinical Features Of Bruxism

If bruxism is nocturnal, the people who sleep with them might hear the clenching or an unpleasant sound which might awake the housemates. This is because sometimes patients do not know that they grind their teeth at night. "So, we ask patients' guardians or family members, or we tell the patient to ask their family members if their teeth make a clenching noise while sleeping," highlighted Dr Kishkindha.

In people who have long-term bruxism, the jaw becomes tender with pain, along with fatigue of facial muscles. It could lead to headaches, neck aches, and also hearing loss.

The teeth become sensitive as a result of bruxism. This happens because enamel, the outer layer of teeth, tends to wear off. This exposes the lower layer of the teeth, that is, the dentine and the pulp, due to which the patient could complain of sensitivity towards hot or cold stimuli.

At times, the structure of the teeth becomes extremely worn out, and only stumps remain, which eventually have to be extracted. The tooth's natural contour or cusps wears off, and the teeth appear flat. Once the enamel is worn out, the bacteria start penetrating into the soft parts of the teeth, which might lead to cavities, affecting dental bridges and crowns.

Due to excessive clenching of the facial muscles, they become hyperactive, which leads to muscle enlargement, inflammation, and hypertrophy.

Bruxism also affects salivary glands, and in some cases, it leads to their blockage. As a result, less saliva is produced, and abnormal dryness occurs in the mouth.

It also damages your temporomandibular joints, leading to soreness while producing a clicking or popping sound during open or closing of the jaw.

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Tips To Manage Sleep Bruxism

1# Managing Stress: Patients can use the psychotherapeutic approach to manage their stress and anxiety, where they are given drugs to manage their anxiety.

2# Mandible Stretching Exercises: These exercises do not directly cure bruxism but act as a complementary pathway so that it does not involve the joints and cause further damage to them.

3# Muscles Relaxants: You can go with muscle relaxants after talking to your dentist so the muscles do not become hyperactive and fatigued.

4# Use of Splints or Mouthguards: Mouthguards, also known as bite guards, can help you stop bruxism. They are important as they fabricate the teeth arch and give a cushiony effect that prevents the teeth from occluding, preventing bruxism.