Bruxism is actually the technical term for teeth grinding, which is a much more descriptive term for what bruxism really is. Bruxism is the involuntary act of grinding your teeth, either while you are awake or while you are asleep, also known as sleep bruxism.
Believe it or not sleep bruxism happens more often than awake bruxism, and it is believed to affect between 8% to 30% of the general population. The reason why the range is so wide is because many people who suffer from sleep bruxism don’t even know them just because they are asleep when the teeth grinding happens. Many people who suffer from this condition actually find out when their sleeping partners point it out to them, even though they might have been suffering from it for many years before that.
Why does bruxism happen?
There is a wide variety of reasons why people suffer from bruxism. The most common ones are related to stress or anxiety, but some studies have also pointed out that that sleep bruxism might actually be closely related with other sleeping conditions such as sleep talking, hypnagogic (the state of consciousness between sleep and wakefulness) or REM sleep disorders.
Still stress and anxiety account for close to 70% of sleep bruxism cases.
What are the symptoms?
Like we mentioned before it can be hard to self-diagnose a case of sleep bruxism because you will be by definition asleep when the episodes occur, and even if you end up waking up as a result of it you’ll probably just think you woke up because of an outside noise or dream.
This is why it’s important to look for the symptoms in order to know if you might be experiencing sleep bruxism episodes or not. Some of these symptoms can be:
- Waking up with a slight headache.
- Waking up with a sore jaw.
- Waking up with a taste of blood in your mouth.
- Breaking a teeth (not necessarily during the night).
How to treat bruxism
Bruxism can’t be cured per-se, but you can definitely take measures to ensure that you don’t damage your teeth when you grind them unconsciously.
Reducing your levels of stress and anxiety is definitely a step in the right direction. However with demanding jobs and responsibilities that is usually easier said than done.
If you know for a fact or suspect that you might suffer from bruxism you should visit your dentist so that he can assess any damage that might have already been done to your teeth.
Once everything checks out he will probably prescribe a mouth ward for you to wear while you sleep to ensure that your teeth aren’t damaged when you grind them and to also reduce the tension in your jaw while you are asleep.