Exploring the Etiology, Management, and Impact of Bruxism on Oral Health and Overall Well-Being

Exploring the Etiology, Management, and Impact of Bruxism on Oral Health and Overall Well-Being

June 1, 2023

What Is Bruxism?

It is a condition characterized by excessive grinding or clenching of teeth, usually during sleep. Sometimes, it can occur during the day.

Having bruxism features two major traits, either grinding teeth together, clenching the jaw, or both. Such oral habits result in excessive teeth wear and tear alongside other problems such as headaches, jaw pain, and earaches.

Signs and Symptoms of Bruxism

Ideally, the best way to identify an underlying health problem is by visiting a medical expert to diagnose the problem. However, you can consider the signs and symptoms of teeth grinding to know when to visit a dentist for evaluation. Some common symptoms of bruxism are:

  1. Grinding teeth or clenching jaw muscles: The clenching and grinding can be audible or silent.
  2. Worn, flattened, ragged, or chipped teeth: This damage to teeth happens over time.
  3. Sensitive teeth: As the enamel wears down, teeth become more sensitive to hot, cold, acidic, or sweet foods and drinks.
  4. Jaw pain or stiffness – common upon waking up.
  5. Headaches or earaches: The muscles for grinding or clenching are connected to the ears and head.
  6. Sleep disruption: Bruxism lowers sleep quality for you and your bed partner due to the noise and movements associated with teeth grinding.
  7. Tongue or cheek damage: Bruxism places unnecessary pressure on the tongue and inner cheeks.

​How Does Bruxism Affect the Teeth, Gums, And Jaw Muscles Over Time?

Bruxism has long-term effects on teeth, gums, and jaw muscles. Some of them are:

  1. Wear and tear on the enamel
  2. Teeth hypersensitivity
  3. Tooth fractures – including chipping, flattening, and cracking
  4. Gum recession
  5. Gum inflammation due to the pressure and trauma of teeth grinding or clenching
  6. Heightened risk of gum disease, tooth decay, and tooth loss due to a compromised oral state
  7. Overworked and strained jaw muscles
  8. Jaw muscle problems like pain, stiffness, and even spasms
  9. Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) – a condition that affects the joint connecting the jawbone to the skull.
  10. Headaches, earaches, and facial pain – due to constant pressure and tension in the jaw muscles

What Is the Long-Term Prognosis for Bruxism?

Your dentist in a dental office in Calgary, Alberta, can determine many long-term prognoses for bruxism depending on the severity and underlying causes of the condition. Some possible scenarios include:

  1. Occasional tooth sensitivity or headaches with no lasting damage to teeth or jaw for mild teeth grinding
  2. More frequent symptoms, such as jaw pain or muscle soreness, and risk for tooth wear and fractures for moderate bruxism
  3. Chronic pain, tooth loss, and significant jaw dysfunction for severe bruxism – merit more invasive treatments, such as orthodontics or reconstructive surgery, to correct the damage. Some patients may still experience ongoing symptoms despite treatment.
  4. A higher risk of developing other health complications, such as cardiovascular disease if bruxism is related to sleep apnea.

Can It Be Cured Completely with Proper Treatment and Management?

Unfortunately, bruxism in Calgary, AB, cannot be cured completely. Instead, dentists can recommend treatment protocols and ongoing care to effectively manage the problem.

The kind of treatment we prescribe at Dental at the Met largely for bruxism depends on the underlying causes. They can include:

  1. Stress and anxiety
  2. Sleeping disorders like sleep apnea and insomnia
  3. Dental malocclusions – leading to an uneven bite
  4. Underlying health problems, including autism.

Once your dentist has a clear evaluation of the causes of your teeth grinding and clenching, the treatment and management options for bruxism can include the following:

  1. Stress reduction techniques – such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing. Reducing stress levels can alleviate bruxism symptoms.
  2. Dental interventions – including using oral appliances like mouthguards in Calgary or a splint to protect teeth from wear and fractures. Dentists may also recommend orthodontic treatments or procedures for reshaping teeth to correct dental malocclusions.
  3. Cognitive-behavioral therapy – helps identify and change behaviors that contribute to jaw clenching during the day.
  4. Medications – muscle relaxants or antidepressants can sometimes help manage bruxism symptoms.
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