We all suffer from some sort of sleep condition, however minor and sometimes it can interrupt our sleep and sometimes it can leave us in a state of ignorant slumber. This can be problematic for those of us who can’t get a good night’s sleep due to some form of health issue but for many, one of the most common conditions is Bruxism.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism, or as it is more commonly known “grinding” is where you literally grind your teeth as you sleep. Grinding your teeth can leave your mouth dry and sometimes sore as well as cause adverse effects on your health over time. Excessive teeth grinding and jaw clenching can even be painful to some and many of us suffer from it and don’t even realise it.
Symptoms of Grinding
So how do we identify Bruxism and what are the symptoms? Dentists will often be able to recognise whether someone is suffering with Bruxism, either through broken fillings or by noticing wear on certain teeth which can be clear giveaway signs that there’s a problem. The main symptoms can present as the following:
- Facial pain
- Broken fillings
- Broken teeth
- Stiffness in jaw
- Fractures on the teeth
- Tenderness or pain of jaw muscles
When patients wake up and find their jaw is stiff or overly sore, or perhaps dryness of the mouth along with a tingling sensation on their teeth, this can be an indication that they may be suffering with Bruxism.
Dental damage can actually occur over a period of time if it isn’t treated and it’s common that many people experience the results of Bruxism during the day. following a night’s sleep for both men and women. As well as night time teeth grinding there is also a very prominent related condition called “awake Bruxism” which includes involuntary clenching of teeth and jaw but during the day as opposed to the “sleep Bruxism” which affects patients during the night.
Causes of Bruxism
There are many contributing factors of Bruxism but some of the key ones include:
- Medication (tablets, medicines etc.)
- Sleep Disorders
- Sleeping position
- Eating Disorders
- Other physical conditions or syndromes
There is research that has been performed to look for associated links between Bruxism and disorders and physical conditions such as Epilepsy and Cerebral Palsy. However, as with many research studies there can only be a certain level of surety based on correlating factors. We do know however that health and fitness always play a part when we are looking at dental or oral health and sleep related conditions.
Treatments for Bruxism
There isn’t really a sure-fire treatment for Bruxism but there are some treatment solutions that could help alleviate the symptoms. These include:
- Muscle relaxation techniques & prescription
- CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy)
- Mouth Guard to reduce sensation of grinding
- Stress reduction
- Fitness activity including Yoga, Massages and deep breathing actions
The secret may be to reduce stress, take regular exercise and improve your diet as these can often be contributing factors for the majority of sufferers of various health conditions and Bruxism may be no different. We do know that there are connections between teeth grinding and sleep apnoea but there are many possible connections which have been considered.
According to research it has been known for a long time that sleep apnoea, a serious sleep disorder can result in Bruxism in many patients. Tight jaw muscles and sensitive teeth create clenching and tension during the night and this can lead to headaches and a sore neck. Sleep Apnoea is caused due to throat muscles relaxing during sleep and blocking the airway. This results in breathing issues which can affect the patient and cause grinding.
We know that lifestyle changes can help improve health overall and in some cases this may be enough to reduce the effects of grinding or potentially stop it altogether. Sleep apnoea is however, a very common condition and usually affects patients between the ages of 30 and 60 but the facts are that many patients (but not all) struggle with these conditions possibly because of their health, due to smoking, diet and lack of exercise. Again, there are correlations but this doesn’t give a 100% answer to the cause because there are of course cases across the board where some patients are not in this category, in terms of poor health or lifestyle choices. Some healthy patients have reported suffering from Bruxia and it could potentially be hereditary as links have been shown between family members.
Ultimately, we all suffer from some form of sleep disturbance at one time or another in our lives but Bruxism remains a common condition across the UK and the only treatments for it seem to be based on managing the condition and making lifestyle choices to alleviate the symptoms or in some cases, resolve it . Either way it is a very real problem for those patients whose sleep is disturbed but also, when it’s affecting their dental health and it’s crucial that there is more awareness about Bruxia and how to combat it, so that patients don’t pay the ultimate price with their teeth.