Let me tell you about our home village in Bukunja and teeth grinding also known as bruxism. Before the adoption of electricity, we ate our supper early. Commonly when the sun was setting. No one ate after dark. It was abominable! Why eat in darkness? What forbidden substances are you consuming shrouded in darkness? Perhaps you were a cannibal –the dreaded night dancers.
These concerns alone kept us eating during daylight. Even the slightest indication of tooth grinding at night labeled you a cannibal. We did not know teeth grinding as a medical condition called Bruxism. Bruxism/ teeth grinding is a repetitive abnormal jaw-muscle activity leading to involuntary teeth grinding or clenching and /or compression of the jaws which may happen while sleeping or awake.
Types of bruxism
- Wake or day-light bruxism happens while you are awake and,
- Sleep or nocturnal bruxism happens while you sleep.
Types of sleep bruxism
Sleep bruxism is further subdivided into primary sleep bruxism, secondary sleep bruxism and iatrogenic sleep bruxism.
- Primary (idiopathic sleep bruxism) is associated with neither medical nor psychological cause.
- Secondary sleep bruxism, this can be as a result of medical or psychological problems e.g., sleep disorders anxiety, stress, and drug consumption.
- Iatrogenic sleep bruxism is believed to be induced by medical drugs.
Wake bruxism on the other hand is associated with stress. Stress and related negative emotions like anxiety and anger are the primary (70% of cases) of teeth grinding. In some instances, it may also be provoked by certain medications or an aggressive personality.
Symptoms for bruxism
Understanding the symptoms of teeth grinding fosters early diagnosis and timely management. These are the symptoms of bruxism
- If the sound of teeth grinding is a frequent disturbance to your sleep partner, it is a clear signal that you may be grappling with bruxism.
- If you find yourself repeatedly enduring unexplained fractures in your teeth and dental restoration, there’s a high likelihood that bruxism is the culprit.
- If you wake up to facial muscle pains, particularly in the morning, it could be a sign of bruxism.
- If you struggle to widely open your mouth upon waking, you may be suffering from sleep bruxism.
- Consistent dull headaches and jaw locking upon waking may indicate that you’re experiencing bruxism during sleep.
Consequences of teeth grinding
As a result of teeth griding, one can experience fatigue in facial muscles, pain in the jaw, and a hastened loss of enamel, often concentrated in the incisal edge and occlusal surfaces of the teeth. In severe cases, this condition can even result in tooth loss and temporal disorders of the mandibular joint. You risk grinding your teeth if you:
- Consume excess alcohol,
- Consume excess caffeine or,
- Abuse drugs.
Risk factors of teeth grinding
While there is no fail-safe mechanism for completely controlling teeth grinding, there exist a range of strategies for managing the risk and mitigating its harmful consequences. These include
- avoiding risk factors such as alcoholism,
- smoking, and excessive caffeine or drug intake;
- regulating one’s wake time and steering clear of abnormal oral habits such as clenching;
- and utilizing techniques such as biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy.
What to do about teeth grinding
If you experience grind your teeth, visit your dentists for professional help before more complications arise such as damage to your teeth and dental restorations, Receding gums, bone loss, Disorder of the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ), Arthritis in your jaw and Eating disorders. Your dentist might suggest any of the following options:
- Make lifestyle changes to reduce stress
- Jaw exercises and massage
- Mouth guards and splints
- Muscle relaxants
- Treat associated disorders
The most commonly prescribed and reliable solution for the grinding teeth is the mouth guard. Its a medical grade wearable appliance that separates your teeth while you sleep to avoid teeth from grinding on each other.