The term 'bruxism' refers to a condition wherein the affected person develops a habit of grinding, clenching, and gnashing his/her teeth. The episodes could even occur during the night while the person is asleep. Mild cases might even get resolved on their own. However, in some cases, there could be other symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, damaged teeth, etc. The condition might be more serious when it occurs unconsciously while sleeping, as the person may remain completely unaware of the damage that is being done. So, one of the most important aspects of the treatment is to identify the different signs and symptoms of this condition.
Due to teeth grinding, the teeth would appear to be worn down, flattened, fractured, or chipped. The person might experience increased tooth sensitivity due to the damage to the tooth enamel and exposed deeper layers of tooth. Other symptoms include frequent jaw pain or a feeling of tightness in jaw muscles, earache, headache, enlarged jaw muscles and facial pain. Due to the grinding, the affected person may also notice signs of chewed tissue on the inside of cheeks and indentations on tongue.
Most kids have been observed to outgrow their problem of bruxism. However, medical help must be sought, if there is no sign of improvement. The use of a mouth guard or protective dental appliance is often recommended in such cases. These devices are not a cure, but they keep the teeth from damage due to the grinding. Not all over-the-counter devices might be a proper fit, which is why it's better to opt for customized devices from the dentist. In adults, stress might be a contributing factor.
So, following relaxation techniques, and going for professional counseling sessions might prove beneficial. Counseling might work well for children, who might grind their teeth due to some kind of tension or fear. People can also benefit from getting involved in sessions of biofeedback [a training program in which a person is given information about physiological processes (heart rate or blood pressure) that is not normally available, with the goal of gaining conscious control of them].
Usually, bruxism treatment does not involve drug therapy. However, for the jaw pain, the doctor might prescribe a muscle relaxant which must be taken before bedtime. Natural methods, when used in conjunction with what has been advised by the dentist, may also provide great deal of relief.
- Chew on some fruits or vegetables before going to sleep. This would be like an exercise for the mouth and gum and thus, it would help in reducing episodes of teeth grinding in sleep.
- Apply a warm washcloth around your face, before bed time. This helps in relaxing the jaw muscles and reduce the pain due to the grinding. A warm bath or a body massage also helps.
- Inculcate the habit of sleeping on your back. Sleeping on your sides, may aggravate the condition.
- Drink a glass of warm milk or warm herbal tea, before going to bed.
Keep yourself aware about the aforementioned symptoms and advise your partner to alert you whenever you are grinding your teeth in sleep or otherwise. Most importantly, follow the doctor's advice, and be conscious about your problem.
Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.