Bruxism is the act of grinding upper and lower teeth subconsciously. There could be several causes of bruxism such as emotional stress, irregular sleeping patterns, etc.

You may have bruxism as an adjunct to other medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s chorea.

Irrespective of the cause, bruxism can be detrimental to your teeth. Grinding your upper teeth over your lower teeth can cause your teeth to wear off.

Bruxism can also lead to tooth fracture or chipping. In due course of time, bruxism may lead to severe teeth sensitivity.

Bruxism is completely curable. If you see your dentist, he may provide you with mouth guards and bite blocks. These help you guide your teeth in correct position and obstruct bruxism.

Simple lifestyle changes, less stressful life and better sleep habits can also help in getting rid of bruxism. But still, finding the root cause of bruxism is vital for complete treatment.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a habit of grinding your teeth unknowingly. Bruxism or involuntary teeth grinding can occur either when you are asleep or in a subconscious state. Bruxism is related to stress and lifestyle according to dentists and clinicians.

Bruxism can be a result of emotional stress, irregular sleep, and lifestyle, malocclusion of teeth or medical conditions. Bruxism can lead to severe teeth damage.

It can chip off your teeth or abrade them. Bruxism can also lead to severe teeth sensitivity due to teeth erosion.

Constant pressure on your gums due to teeth grinding can even hurt your gums. In turn, this may lead to swollen and receding gums. Due to lack of gum support, teeth get loose in their sockets.

Bruxism is entirely treatable. You can make some lifestyle changes and keep away from stress for starters. Eventually, you may need your dentist’s help for a permanent solution.

Mouth guards and bite blocks obstruct teeth grinding. Bite obstruction ultimately helps you get rid of bruxism for good. (1)

Signs and symptoms

The following are some signs you may see if you suspect that you grind your teeth subconsciously –

  • Chipped teeth
  • Abrasion on top surfaces of teeth
  • Cracked or fractured teeth
  • Flat cusps over molars
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Swollen gums
  • Loose teeth
  • Receding Gums
  • Jaw pains

Identifying the root causes of bruxism

Once you identify the above signs and symptoms, it’s time to know the cause of bruxism.

Sleep issues

Disturbed sleep or irregular sleeping pattern can lead to bruxism. Irregular sleep can cause your stress hormones to rise. Due to a rise in stress hormones bruxism occurs.

Negative emotions

Negative emotions can lead to psychological stress. This, in turn, can lead to bruxism. Negative emotions can not only cause emotional stress but also depression and other psychological disorders. (2)

Lifestyle

Smoking, chewing tobacco or over-consumption of alcohol can lead to a rise in toxic substances in your body. Toxic substances can lead to an increase in stress hormones. This, in turn, causes bruxism.

Stress

Stress is the primary causative factor for bruxism. Stress leads to teeth clenching which eventually leads to teeth grinding subconsciously.

Malocclusion

Sometimes, when you have improperly aligned teeth, your bite is also incorrect. To make up for the incorrect bite, you may unconsciously start grinding your teeth.

Medicines and Medical conditions

Medical conditions like Parkinson’s disease or Huntington’s disease can lead to teeth grinding. In these cases, bruxism is involuntary and uncontrolled. Often this type of bruxism leads to gum injury and bone loss. (3)

Implications of Bruxism

The following are the damages that teeth grinding leaves behind –

Teeth erosion

Top surfaces of teeth get eroded due to constant grinding.  Erosion of top surfaces of teeth leads to severe teeth sensitivity and weak teeth.

Cracked teeth

Undue pressure on the teeth and constant grinding can lead to one or more of your teeth getting cracked. Fractured teeth or cracked tooth syndrome is a severe condition and calls for immediate treatment.

Swollen gums

Pressure from the teeth gets transmitted to your gums. Gum injury leads to swelling and redness of the gums.

Loose teeth

Once your gums get inflamed, your gums start receding. Lack of gum support further leads to loss of bone. The bone loss also leads to loose teeth.

Treatment

Treating bruxism is mandatory because until then, it keeps getting worse. You can start making some changes at home and then visit your dentist for a permanent solution.

What can you do at home?

  • Make lifestyle changes, sleep and wake up at fixed times.
  • Eat healthily, maintain a proper diet.
  • Try to stay away from stressful situations.

Orthodontic treatment

You can get rid of bruxism only if you get orthodontic treatment. Your orthodontist may give you bite blocks and mouth guards.

You should wear these at night which prevent bruxism, and your jaws get habituated to stay apart and not clench at night.

Prevention

The only possible method to prevent bruxism is to take conscious measures to stop the habit. Make some lifestyle changes, eat healthily and get enough sleep.

These improve your general health and reduce your stress levels. Reduction in stress eventually helps you stop the habit of teeth grinding.

Final thoughts

Bruxism leads to chipped teeth, jaw pains, gum swelling, loose teeth and even premature exfoliation of teeth. The most damage is taken up by the physical structure of your teeth.

But the good news is that bruxism is curable. As soon as you see any signs and symptoms associated with bruxism, see your dentist. Along with lifestyle changes, bite blocks and bite obstructers also help you get rid of this habit.

Various causes of bruxism are emotional stress, irregular sleeping patterns, the adjunct to other medical conditions like Parkinson's disease