What is Bruxism-Causes and Effects

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Bruxism or the habit of grinding one’s teeth during the waking hours or during sleep can poe a major threat to dental health besides being a source of great irritation for the sleeping companion.

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According to estimates, almost 15% of the children suffer from bruxism. The percentage is much higher in case of adults.

Let us know what exactly what is bruxism- its causes and effects.

Bruxism causes

Some people clench and gnash during the day. Some do so while they are asleep, oblivious of the fact that they are doing so.

Whether this grinding of teeth is during the day or at night, it causes serious damage to the enamel of the teeth and can cause several other complications.

Main causes of bruxism are:

  • Anxiety, tension and stress.
  • Frustration and anger
  • Faulty alignment of teeth along the jawbone
  • Digestive disorders
  • Sleep related disorders
  • Too much consumption of alcohol, particularly before going to bed.
  • Excessive consumption of coffee
  • Side effects of medicines taken to cure depression
  • One of the side effects of medicines taken to treat disorders like Parkinson’s disease or the Huntington’s disease
  • Hyperactive personality
  • Fiercely competitive nature

As is evident from the causes of bruxism, it might be caused due to medical conditions or due to lifestyle related problems.

According to experts, bruxism is more of a habit than a disorder.

Bruxism and Dental health

Clenching the teeth, grinding and gnashing them becomes a habit with some people. They do so during their waking hours as much as during sleep without realizing that they are damaging their teeth when they do so.

This seemingly harmless habit can have disastrous consequences and cause tooth damage.

Here are the effects of bruxism :

  • Wearing out of enamel- Constant clenching and grinding teeth against each other causes the enamel on the surface of the teeth to be damaged over a period of many years. Thereafter, the teeth become more prone to tooth sensitivity and many other problems as the sensitive underlying parts containing the nerves become exposed.
  • Toothache- As the enamel gets worn away gradually due to constant and the softer dentine and pulp layers beneath get exposed, the tooth becomes more vulnerable to infections from the bacteria present in the mouth leading to frequent toothaches.
  • Receding gums- If bruxism goes on unchecked for many years, it can cause the gums to recede. That, in turn, could cause crooked teeth or a misalignment of teeth. Not only this, that also exposes the root of the teeth making the tooth or teeth more sensitive to feelings of hot and cold, touch and pain.
  • Jaw pains- People who gnash their teeth involuntarily during sleep do not realize that they exert a lot of pressure on their facial muscles while doing so. As a result of pressure exerted on the jaws during sleep, they might get up with their jaws feeling sore and ‘tired’. The stiffness might fade away after a few hours as the day progresses.
  • Persistent headaches- As a result of this excessive pressure on jaws, people given in to bruxism might suffer from frequent and haunting headaches. Worse still, they might not even know that they grind their teeth while they sleep till they are told about that.
  • Temporomandibular disorders- We have joints at the side of the head called the Temporomandibular joints (TMJs). These TMJs fix the lower jaw to our face. Habitual, persistent grinding might cause dislocation of TMJs. If that happens, the affected person might find it difficult to rotate hiss head sideway or open his mouth completely. In extreme cases, the movements of the neck and/or jaw might be restricted.

Besides affecting the dental health of the person who is given in to bruxism, it can have a devastating effect on the sleep of the companion. It is obviously very difficult to sleep with a person who makes fierce, grinding sounds all night. This can even sever the relations between the two.

This is in addition to depriving one’s own body of rest. All our muscles crave for rest during the night. A person who suffers from this problem deprives the muscles of his own body from rest even while he is sleeping.

It is time people realize that this habit of theirs is taking a toll on their health, their sleep and their relationships. Bruxism can be avoided or controlled with a little care, determination and lifestyle changes.

If you have the habit of gnashing your teeth or your partner tells you that you do so during sleep, you must talk to your dentist about it and address the problem at the earliest if you are keen to avoid all the complications pointed out above.

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