Sleep Bruxism: A Common Unknown Disorder and its Management

Bruxism is a common disorder characterized by involuntary grinding, gnashing or clenching of teeth when awake (awake bruxism) or when asleep (sleep bruxism).

Patients who clench their teeth during sleep, tend to develop other sleep disorders like snoring and pauses in breathing also known as sleep apnea.

Sleep bruxism may be mild requiring no treatment or severe and frequent leading to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other related problems.  Since most bruxism sufferers are unaware of it until complications develop, it is important to know signs & symptoms, causes and treatment to aid in its management.

Symptoms

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake other people.
  • Flattened, fractured, chipped and loose teeth.
  • Exposed teeth enamel and other underlying deep layers.
  • Excess tooth pain and sensitivity.
  • Locked and tired jaws that can’t open or close completely.
  • Aching jaws, neck or face.
  • Sometimes pain presenting like ear ache.
  • Sleep disruption leading to insomnia.

Causes

  • Increased anxiety or stress leading to anger and frustration.
  • Stomach acid reflux in the esophagus leading to severe abdominal pains
  • Sleep bruxism is common in young children but can be eradicated by age.
  • People with hyperactive, aggressive, or competitive personality.
  • Medications such as antidepressants.
  • Smoking, caffeine, alcohol and use of recreation drugs.
  • Genetically spread.

Complications

Severe sleep bruxism may lead to the following complications:

  • Damaged teeth.
  • Tooth loss.
  • Persistent migraines.
  • Severe facial or jaw pain.
  • Disorders in temporomandibular joints which may sound like clicking when opening and closing the jaws.

Management

Management of sleep bruxism is always related to the root cause. Dentists can fit the patient with a mouth guard to prevent the teeth from grinding.

If the grinding is caused by anxiety and stress, options to reduce this may be provided including counselling sessions. Starting an exercise program, seeing a physical therapist, or obtaining a muscle relaxants prescription are other options that may be offered.

Treating sleeping disorders may also be appropriate especially when the disorder is caused by insomnia

Other common ways to stop teeth grinding include:

  • Cutting down on foods containing caffeine such as chocolates and coffee.
  • Avoid chewing anything apart from food such as pens and chewing gums since this conditions your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching.
  • Training yourself not to clench by placing the tip of your tongue in the middle your teeth, trains your jaws to relax even at night.
  • Jaw muscles can be relaxed by placing a warm washcloth against the cheek in front of the earlobe for some time before sleeping.
  • Try sleeping on your back instead of your side. Side sleeping can be a cause of night Bruxism. Look for the right pillow to suit you.

Management of bruxism is often about finding the root cause before complications develop. Due to the lack of awareness of these disorders many people live with them, without consulting or seeking  the necessary medical help.

 How to prevent grinding your teeth in your sleep

One of the conditions that ought to be treated early is called Bruxism. This is the grinding and clenching of the teeth. It’s a common condition among both children and adults. Some of the signs that you may have Bruxism include a grinding sound from the teeth at night, contractions of jaw muscles in a rhythmic manner, tight and painful jaw muscles, long lasting pain in the face, and swelling on the one side of the lower jaw due to clenching. This condition leads to the wear and tear that damages the enamel. It can also lead to the production of malocclusion and even tooth loss. If it goes for long without treatment, the victim might develop temporomandibular. Many people with this condition don’t know that they have it. In particular, those who exhibit the symptom of grinding the teeth at night never realize they have such a condition.

Are you worried about the treatment of this condition? Well, worry no more because there is a treatment that can help clear away grinding together with other effects. One of the best remedies is Bruxism exercises.

What are Bruxism exercises?

Bruxism exercises are simple exercises that one can do when they feel physically or mentally tense to address the causes and results of grinding the teeth. Such exercises will help an individual to manage triggers such as anger, boredom and stress hence helping one to prevent teeth from grinding.

Here is an example of Bruxism exercises that can help you out.

• The Tongue Exercise

This is an exercise recommended for people with daytime bruxism. This exercise can help stop clenching that might be affecting you when you are not eating or talking. You will have to put the tip of your tongue on the upper side of your mouth near your incisor teeth. This exercise will prevent jaw clenching. Repeat the process several times as necessary.

• Have a Jaw Massage

If one of your symptoms include tight and painful jaws, you can do a jaw joint massage. You press the muscles of your jaw joints gently with the tips of your fingers in small circles. You can get warm running water such as that in the shower and run it on the painful areas as you do a gentle massage.

• Keeping your Teeth Apart

Medical practitioners have argued that keeping the teeth apart when the mouth is closed will help relax the jaw. This activity has been reported to have helped many people. You can get yourself dental guards that can help in this process mostly when worn at night.

• Oil Massage

To relieve pain in the jaw muscles, you can use some warmed organic oil to soothe and numb the jaw area. Organic oils such as cinnamon oil, lavender oil, olive oil, and rosemary oil can aid in the exercise. One can dip his/her fingertips in the oil and massage both the cheeks and the jaw. This can be achieved through light tapping on the jaws with your fingertips.

• Warm Compress

To relieve the pain further, you can soak cotton or a face towel in hot water and compress it gently against your jaw joint until cold. You can do this exercise before bed and immediately after waking up in the morning. The compression should be concentrated in the area that hurts mostly. Compressing before bed will help relax the muscles hence prevent further pain in the morning.

• Neck Exercise

This is one of the Bruxism exercises that should be done very gently. It can be done while the person is either seated or standing. You will have to count to 10 as you take your chin slowly towards the chest so that it touches the chest when you reach 10. You will then maintain the position in one minute before you start moving the head back to its position while counting. Ensure you don’t tilt your neck backward, instead let it be upwards. Do the exercise repeatedly for better results. You can also move the head sideways so that the ear touches the shoulder as you count slowly.

• Shoulder Exercise.

You can move your shoulder upwards whether when seated or standing. You can choose what makes you comfortable. After moving the shoulders upwards, you can then roll them backward to complete circular motion. This exercise should be done with one shoulder each time and repeated until you eventually feel relaxed on the shoulders.

• Thumb Massage

The Chinese healers have believed the point between the eyebrows as a place that helps reduce pressure and tension around the muscles of the face. You can press this area with your thumb and massage the area nine times in a clockwise manner making circular motions

• Yawning Exercise

You can do yawning exercises if your jaws are cramped or stiff. Yawning can help stretch the muscles and relax your throat, jaw, and face as well as your body. You can take a deep yawn where you open your mouth as wide as possible. This exercise should be performed several times.

Although Bruxism has no actual cure, the care mentioned above has helped millions of affected people get relief from pain. If you suspect you have Bruxism, start the exercises today, and you should find it helps.

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