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Bruxism (Teeth Grinding): Causes and Therapies for a Potentially Troubling Behavior

What exactly is bruxism?

 Bruxism refers to the para -functional ("para" – outside; "function" – job or duty) grinding of teeth. In other words, the stress is placed on the teeth and jaw muscles outside the normal range of chewing, biting, etc.

What are the types of Bruxism?

 Bruxism is divided into two separate categories: daytime (diurnal) grinding, which occurs while you are awake, and nighttime (nocturnal) grinding that occurs while you are asleep.

 What are the Causes of Bruxism

1.    It seems to be related to a pattern of brain activity that happens during the sleep cycle. This pattern, called the arousal response, occurs when an individual passes between states of deeper and lighter sleep or wakefulness. Several studies indicate it can trigger muscular activities that result in teeth grinding. Based on this research, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine now classifies nocturnal bruxism as a sleep-related movement disorder. That classification makes sense, as studies have shown that nocturnal teeth grinding is strongly associated with habitual snoring and other sleep disorders.

2.      Long-term use of psychoactive drugs, such as certain SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and amphetamines, is associated with bruxism. It's possible that these drugs affect the transmission of nerve impulses in such a way that they trigger the response

3.      The excessive use of Tobacco, caffeine, alcohol and illicit drugs has also been reported to trigger teeth grinding.

4.      Bruxism has a psychological or emotional aspect.  Bruxers tend to have higher levels of anxiety, stress sensitivity, depression and hostility.

How do you diagnose Bruxism?

 Usually people find themselves clenching their teeth — especially in times of stress. Occasionally at night, a relative or sleeping partner may notice unexpectedly loud, grating sounds. On closer inspection, they may find that those jarring noises are produced by teeth grinding.

 What is the treatment of Bruxism?

1.       Bruxism isn’t abnormal — and in many cases, simply becoming aware of this behavior can help you limit it. If it recurs frequently, however, it may be time to seek treatment.

2.         Avoid use of illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco.

3.       Stress reduction techniques address the psychological side of the bruxism. There are a number of simple techniques that can help you relax and get a good night's sleep — and many of them can be effective at reducing teeth grinding at night. Taking a warm bath, creating a soothing environment for relaxation and keeping work-related tasks (and laptop computers) out of the bedroom can help you decompress and unwind more easily at night. Other stress-reduction practices, including meditation, mindfulness and biofeedback, can be used at any time.

4.      A number of dental treatments can help keep your teeth from being damaged by excessive grinding .The most common is an appliance called an "occlusal guard" or night guard. This is a comfortable, custom-made device that is most often worn over the top teeth. Made of laboratory-processed acrylic resin, a high impact plastic, the device keeps the teeth from actually coming into contact, and can prevent damage to teeth, fillings, crowns and other dental work.

         Figure : After taking impressions, your dentist will make a model of your bite. A custom-made night guard is created from that model.



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