The nitty-gritty of Bruxism

Bruxism or Grinding Teeth

The importance of proper quality of sleep cannot be overemphasized. However, there are several disorders that make sleep hard to find, one of them being Sleep Bruxism (SB). This is a common condition that affects both children and adults, and that is why shedding some light on its practical details is as right as rain. It is simply a sleep disorder that is characterized by gnashing or teeth grinding at night, as well as jaw clenching during sleep. This oral parafunctional activity isn’t a disease, but when exacerbated may cause an unbalance and changing of orofacial structures.

Causes and risk factors for sleep Bruxism

Though the exact cause of sleep Bruxism is still an enigma, studies have revealed that it is highly linked to anxiety, sensitivity to brain chemicals and very brief and intense awakenings from sleep. Stress, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, caffeine, snoring and sleep Apnea are also believed to exacerbate teeth grinding. Genetic factors are also associated with this condition, meaning that if you come from a family with a history sleep Bruxism, its attack is a bitter pill you may have to swallow at some point in your life.

Living with sleep Bruxism.

People suffering from this condition experience several symptoms such as excessive tooth wear, tooth fractures and hypersensitive teeth. They normally experience pain when biting on food, due to inflammation and sensitivity of the periodontal teeth ligament. They also grind their teeth during sleep, producing an unpleasant noise. Cheek biting and lip biting may follow this grinding, and the person in question feels a burning sensation in the tongue. Other symptoms include teeth indentations, hypertrophy, tenderness and fatigue of the muscles mastication as well as restricted mouth opening. The TemporoMandibular joints also become painful and headaches follow, as if in conspiracy to make the life of the sufferer miserable.

Sleep Bruxism is also associated with several other health conditions. These includes Huntington’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, Cerebral palsy, Acrodynia,Torus mandibularis, Intellectual disability, Oromandibular dystonia, Rett syndrome, Dyskinesias, Down syndrome and autism. The list is long. Indeed, misfortunes seldom come singly. These conditions may also attack or a sleep bruxism patient, striking hot nail on the already bleeding wound. Conversely, suffering from these conditions may set the stage for bruxism attack.

People living with patients of sleep bruxism.

Grinding of teeth is associated with an unpleasant sound which can be heard by a partner who is close to the sufferer. It is important for people to understand the suffering of their friends or relatives suffering from bruxism and treat them accordingly. This is not a death threatening condition and therefore all and sundry should support those affected to ensure that their path to the pink of health is smooth. For instance, if you are living with a sleep bruxism patient, ensure that he or she gets enough sleep, drinks a lot of water and does not take alcohol. Also, ensure that he or she avoids sleeping on his or her back (supine position) and keep computers and TVs away from the bedroom.

Management and treatment for Sleep Bruxism.

There are both pharmacological and non-pharmacological treatment for sleep bruxism. They are mainly geared towards alleviating if not eliminating the effects of sleep bruxism. The non-pharmacological treatments include applying ice to painful jaw muscles, avoiding hard foods, avoiding chewing gum and drinking plenty of water. It is also important to ensure that you take the right quality and quantity of sleep for your age, involving both the REM and N-REM sleep cycles. Additionally, practice physical therapy exercises in order to stretch the muscles of the mouth, the face and the entire head. Massaging these muscles is the icing on the cake.


It is safe to say that behavioral therapies such as cognitive behavioral therapy are the mainstream treatments for bruxism. This is because research on the medications to combat this condition is still on going, mainly involving antidepressants, muscle relaxants , benzodiazepines, dopamine agents, anticonvulsants and beta blockers. Specifically, clonazepam, amitriptyline, levodopa, bromocriptine, clonidine, pergolide, I-tryptophan and propranolol have been useful in the medical treatment for bruxism.

In a nutshell, though bruxism is not a dangerous disorder, it could lead permanent teeth damage which sets the stage for more problems. It could also lead to a myriad of pains involving the jaw, the ears and the head. For this reason, its treatment is recommended, but it should be prevented at all costs, keeping in mind that an ounce of prevention is better than an ounce of cure.

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