What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the act of unconsciously grinding or clenching your teeth. It may occur during the day (awake bruxism) for some or during the night for others (sleep bruxism).

Everyone, men and women, grind and clench their teeth a little bit when sleeping. Bruxism, however, is when this habit becomes more frequent and involves strong muscle contractions. Those strong muscle contractions can cause devastating consequences to your teeth and jaw if left untreated.

Signs of bruxism

Flat, worn out teeth are a sign of bruxism

Common signs associated with bruxism:
  • Flat, worn out teeth
  • Fractured teeth
  • Loose and sensible teeth
  • Gum recession
  • Jaw and neck pain
  • Excessively developed muscles of the face

Over time, if bruxism and its cause are left untreated, it can cause you to age faster and look older than your age. [1]

 

In the past, dentists considered bruxism as normal and left it untreated for two main reasons. First, they didn’t know what caused bruxism. And second, they didn’t have the technology to treat it safely. Today, thankfully, our situation is different. Just recently, new technology, such as custom night guards and cpap machine can help protect our teeth and treat bruxism at its roots.

Most people are unaware of clenching and grinding their teeth. Sleep bruxers do not usually complain of sleep alterations at first. Most teeth grinding is unconscious. So you may suffer from severe bruxism without realizing it. Your dentist or your bed partner can help confirm if you have bruxism. Don’t hesitate to ask them.

This online support group is here to provide you with all the solutions available to treat bruxism. Based on the experience of our members and on scientific studies, we have put together the first three steps program available online to help you get rid of bruxism.

Is there a difference between awake bruxism and sleep bruxism?
Sleep bruxism linked to fatigue

If you suffer from sleepiness during the daytime despite sleeping for 8 hours, your sleep bruxism could be caused by a more serious disorder, such as sleep apnea or upper airway resistance syndrome.

Yes. Bruxism during the day is a tic related to daily stress. If you find yourself clenching your jaw during the day, look for ways to reduce your stress. Biofeedback devices, such as the SleepGuard Headband, can help you get rid of your tic and bad daytime habit of clenching.

Sleep bruxism, in contrast, involves the whole central nervous system. It can be caused by many different factors, but it usually involves frequent micro-arousals and a lightening of your sleep. If you suffer from daytime sleepiness, your sleep bruxism may be caused by a sleep disorder. Learn more on those sleep disorders and how to improve your sleep by reading Step 3.

Is there different types of sleep bruxism?

During sleep, three types of bruxism exist: grinding, clenching and a combination of the two. The more frequent type is grinding (which produce a sound that often disturbs room partners). According to studies, about 50% of bruxers are grinders and 35% grind and clench their teeth while sleeping. But one thing is sure, all type of sleep bruxism are devastating for your teeth and overall health.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Many theories to explain the causes of bruxism have been formulated over the years. But recent research suggest teeth grinding to be caused by more than one factor involving the whole central nervous system:

Risk factors associated with awake bruxism:

  • Anxiety [2]
  • High consumption of caffeine (six or more cups of coffee or tea a day) [3]

Risk factors associated with sleep bruxism:

  • Certain medications (antidepressant medication, ADHD) and illicit drugs, such as amphetamine [4]
  • Irregular sleep and work hours [5]
  • Sleep disturbances, such as noises and light [6] [7]
  • Difficulty breathing while sleeping (sleep apnea and upper airway resistance syndrome are major causes of sleep bruxism) [8] [9]
  • Smoking. Smokers suffer from bruxism almost two times more than non-smokers [10]
  • Gastroesophageal reflux [11]
  • Alcohol consumption [12]
  • High consumption of caffeine (six or more cups of coffee or tea a day) [13]

Can bruxism be the result of anomalies in the position of my teeth when my jaw is closed?

This factor was formerly considered an important cause of bruxism. But more recently, there is growing agreement that the position of your teeth do not affect bruxism. It has very little influence on bruxism, unless the position of your jaw restricts your ability to breath during sleep.  [14]

How can I stop bruxism?
Stress and bruxism

Stress is not the only cause of bruxism. You can be the most relax person in the world and still suffer from teeth grinding.

A wide variety of “treatments” for bruxism are shared on the web, many if not all with no scientific evidence. They are often based on old myths, such as “sleep bruxism is simply caused by stress”. Making the problem worse, most dentists only have a limited knowledge of bruxism.

So how can you really stop your bruxism? By first understanding that sleep bruxism and awake bruxism are different. And that sometime, teeth grinding is the result of several risk factors being present at the same time. Therefore, more than one step is necessary to cure yourself of it. Thanks to the help of our members and the scientific community, you can now read all the solutions on this website with the Three Steps System to Curing Bruxism for Life.

-> Learn more about those steps here and stop grinding your teeth today.

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Disclaimer

The information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for advice from your physician or other health care professional. You should consult with a healthcare professional if you have or suspect you might have a health problem.