Bruxism, or Grinding Your Teeth

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Bruxism, or Grinding Your Teeth

Bruxism is a condition characterized by the grinding of your teeth and the clenching of your jaw. It occurs in both children and adults, and can have both short and long-term repercussions, which go beyond medical and relationship issues for those who suffer from it. Recent research shows that daytime sleepiness, which occurs due to a number of reasons including bruxism, can have an adverse impact on educational achievement in children.
The only total cure for Buxism is reducing of stress. Your dentist may not be able to help with this, but they can fit with you with a bite guard, which will reduce the impact of grinding on both your teeth, and jaws.

An estimated 8 percent of the general US population suffers from Bruxism, which the American Dental Association says is caused not only by stress as previously believed, but also by sleep disorders, an abnormal bite or teeth that are missing or crooked.
Sleep disruption for the sufferer, and for bed partners are not the only negative effects. Bruxism sufferers are three times more likely to suffer from headaches. They can wake up in the morning with a dull headache, an aching jaw and facial muscles. Some people with bruxism also have ear ache and feel a stiffness of their shoulders. It may cause difficulty in opening the mouth and lead to inflammation and receding of gums. Teeth can be damaged, become fractured or come loose due to severe grinding.

Results of a research on sleep duration, wake/sleep symptoms and academic performance of year 11 students, published in Sleep and Breathing journal, in November 2009 reported that a quarter of the students (25 percent) reported feeling excessively sleepy during daytime and sleep deprivation was associated with a decrease in mathematics performance. Those who reported excessive sleepiness on rising and sleepiness during third and fourth lessons also had poorer grades in mathematics and english. Bruxism and snoring were associated with excessive daytime sleepiness. The survey was conducted in an international school in Hong Kong, catering to different ethnic groups.

The Bruxism Association of UK lists those who have another sleep disorder as at high risk of bruxism. It can affect those who have sleep disorders such as snoring, obstructive sleep apnea, sleep talking, sleep paralysis and those who become violent during sleep and those who have hypnogogic/hypnopompic hallucinations, while semi-consciousness between sleep and wake. People with a stressful lifestyle, smokers and those who consume excessive amounts of alcohol also face higher risk of the condition, as do those who drink six or more cups of tea or coffee a day. Bruxism can affect those who are on medications for sleep, depression or anxiety.

Those who have mild symptoms may not require treatment. However, frequent and severe bruxism can lead to many problems. Some may have sleep bruxism, but be unaware of it until complications develop. Hence, knowing the signs and symptoms of the condition and seeking regular dental care is advised. A dentist may suggest a protective dental appliance (splint) or a mouth guard to prevent tooth damage during sleep. Splints, usually made of hard acrylic, fit over the upper or lower teeth. Some dentists make them right in their office, while others send them off to a laboratory. Mouth guards can be obtained over the counter or from your dentist. Mouth guards are less expensive compared to splints, but they may not fit completely and can become dislodged during teeth grinding.

For those who are stressed out, the only solution would be to relieve the tension. You may get help in the form of physical therapy, muscle relaxants, counseling and even exercise. If a child grinds his or her teeth because of tension or fear, it may be helpful to talk to your child about his or her fears just before bed. A warm bath or a favorite book may also help the child feel relaxed before falling asleep.

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