Bruxism is a condition that’s characterized by the grinding, gnashing, or clenching of teeth. Mild cases might not require treatment. But severe cases can lead to headaches, temporomandibular joint disorder, jaw pain, and other health concerns. Left untreated, this condition can cause your tooth enamel, dental crowns, and fillings to loosen and break.
Although bruxism is generally thought of as a sleep-related movement disorder, it’s not uncommon for people to grind, gnash, or clench their teeth while awake. Both types of bruxism, sleep-bruxism and awake-bruxism, involve involuntary and unconscious movement. However, those who grind, clench, or gnash their teeth during sleep are less likely to know they have a problem and more likely to suffer from sleep-related disorders like snoring and sleep apnea.
Like other sleep-related movement disorders, sleep-bruxism can interfere with sleep quality. It involves tensing of the muscles, which can keep our bodies from falling into the deep, restful sleep required for total relaxation. For these reasons, sleep-bruxism is considered a bigger health concern than awake-bruxism.
Since people with sleep-bruxism can remain unaware of the problem for years or until the development of other complications, knowing the signs and symptoms of this condition is important.
The following are some of the signs and symptoms of bruxism:
- Increased tooth sensitivity or pain
- Unexplained earaches
- Broken or chipped crowns or fillings
- Pain or soreness in the neck, face, or jaw
- Damage on the buccal pouch (the area between the inside of the cheek and the teeth and gums) from gnawing
- Flattened, chipped, fractured, or loose teeth
- Worn tooth enamel, revealing the deeper layers of the tooth
- Dull headaches that start in the temples
- Tight or tired jaw muscles
- Complaints of loud tooth-grinding sounds from sleeping partners
- A locked jaw that makes it impossible to open or close the mouth completely
- Sleep disruption
Causes of Bruxism
Although the exact causes of both awake-bruxism and sleep-bruxism remain unclear, doctors believe that a combination of psychological, physical, and genetic factors might be responsible.
Awake-bruxism might stem from emotions like anger, anxiety, stress, tension, or frustration. About 70%of awake-bruxism cases seem to be related to stress and anxiety. Awake-bruxism might also be a habit that occurs during deep concentration or a coping strategy like nail biting.
Sleep-bruxism, on the other hand, might be a sleep-related chewing activity that correlates with arousal during sleep.
Several factors can increase the risk of developing this medical condition including:
High levels of anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration can lead to this condition. In adults, teeth grinding occurs at a much higher rate in those who tend to have intense emotional reactions.
Teeth-grinding rates decrease with age, which is why it’s more common in early childhood. People tend to outgrow this condition before adulthood. In fact, it’s estimated that about 33% of young children have sleep-bruxism or grind their teeth during sleep. On the other hand, its prevalence in adults under the age of 30 is around 13% and about 3% in those over 60 years of age.
People who have hyperactive, aggressive, or competitive personalities are more likely to develop bruxism than others.
Medications and Other Substances
Teeth grinding might be one of the less common side effects of psychoactive drugs, particularly certain antidepressants. Nicotine, caffeine, and alcohol use might increase the risk of teeth-grinding.
Teeth-grinding can be associated with several disorders and mental illnesses. Examples include epilepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, REM behaviour disorder, hyperactivity disorder, dementia, attention deficit disorder, gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), and Parkinson’s disease. Teeth-grinding might also occur genetically.
Teeth-grinding does not usually lead to serious complications. However, severe cases can cause:
- Damage to the jaw, teeth, crowns, or restorations
- Severe facial pain
- Tension-type headaches
- Temporomandibular joint disorders
- Significant swelling and pain in the jaw
Teeth-grinding has no cure. But as stated earlier, treatment isn’t always necessary. Apart from the fact that it can be outgrown, not many adults suffer from cases that are severe enough to necessitate therapy.
However, if required, through a combination of therapies, the symptoms and adverse effects associated with teeth-grinding can be reduced and even eliminated. In some cases, lifestyle changes can prove helpful. Better sleep hygiene and reduced levels of stress might be beneficial and can be achieved by:
- Practicing yoga, meditation, and deep breathing exercises
- Going to bed and waking up at consistent times
- Indulging in warm baths, facial massages, and compresses regularly
- Eliminating or reducing the intake of nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine
- Avoiding hard foods and instead chew gum to help keep your jaw muscles more relaxed
Should lifestyle modifications prove ineffective or insufficient, dental devices or other therapies can be used to help alleviate the problem.
Dental devices for bruxism include occlusal bite guards, splints, and bite plates, all of which can be custom fitted by a dentist. These appliances are designed to separate the teeth, preventing further damage and grinding sounds. The dentist will take an impression of your teeth to ensure the device fits over your lower or upper teeth perfectly.
Mandibular Advancement Devices (MADs), for instance, are designed for overnight wear and can be fitted by a dentist to help prevent teeth-grinding. MADs keep the tongue forward to ensure it does not obstruct your breathing, which might be the case if it collapses back into your airways.
For severe cases, there are several approaches to help prevent and correct the damage to your teeth. You should consult a dentist to find the best option for you. In case of heightened sensitivity and the inability to chew properly due to tooth wear, dental correction might be necessary. Your dentist may have to use dental crowns to repair the damage or, if need be, reshape the teeth’s chewing surfaces.
Other approaches that may help relieve teeth-grinding problems include:
Stress or Anxiety Management
Strategies that promote relaxation like yoga and meditation can help stop stress-related teeth grinding. Advice from a licensed, professional counsellor or therapist might help relieve teeth-grinding if it’s associated with an anxiety disorder.
Positioning your mouth and jaw properly might help stop teeth-grinding behaviours. Your doctor or dentist can show you the most effective mouth and jaw position.
This method teaches control over the movement of jaw muscles using monitoring equipment and procedures.
In general, medications might not be very effective. Even so, Botox injections, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants or anti-anxiety medications can be used. Compared to other approaches, combined therapies have proven more effective. For instance, cognitive behavioural therapy can be applied in combination with the use of occlusal splints.
If you’ve made the decision to seek orthodontic treatment, you’re one step closer to achieving a straight, beautiful smile. Although braces are a great way to straighten your teeth, they do bring about some disadvantages, namely fewer food choices. As most people who wear braces can attest, removing food particles from them can be an arduous task.
Some foods should only be eaten if you’re prepared to devote a lot of time towards cleaning your braces after you’ve eaten. Additionally, there are a few foods that you should avoid altogether, as they can potentially damage or bend wires and pop brackets off your braces. In this article, we detail some of the foods that you should and should not eat while wearing your braces.
Foods You Can Eat
Abstaining from some of your favourite foods can be a challenge that requires a fair bit of willpower; however, it is worth doing in the name of straight, healthy teeth. After all, orthodontic appliances can be expensive, so taking care of them should be paramount. Here are some of the foods that you can eat with your new orthodontic appliance:
- Milkshakes, Jell-O, ice cream without nuts, smoothies, and cakes
- Soft-cooked rice, noodles, and pasta
- Salmon and tuna, crabs and crab cakes
- Soft cheeses and lunch meats
- Meatballs, hot-dogs, and hamburgers
- Soft-cooked chicken
- Peas, steamed spinach, mashed potatoes
Is this an all-encompassing list of foods you can eat? Of course, not; it is, however, a reasonable list of foods that should cause you the least amount of problems as you adjust to wearing your new orthodontic appliance.
Now that we have detailed some of the foods that you can eat, let’s turn our attention to foods that you should completely avoid during your orthodontic treatment.
Foods to Avoid
Tough meats like beef jerky should be avoided at all costs as they may loosen the brackets and wiring that holds your orthodontic appliances in place.
Certain snacks like potato chips can morph into hard balls on your orthodontic appliance, making them hard to clean, so consider avoiding these foods as well.
Hard foods like pizza crusts and raw vegetables can damage the wires and brackets of your orthodontic appliance.
Sticky foods like caramel candies and licorice should also be avoided as they often get caught between wires and brackets, which could potentially lead to tooth decay.
Habits like chewing on pens, pencils, and ice should be strictly avoided as these can cause irreparable damage to your device.
If this is your first time receiving orthodontic treatment, it’s important to note that for the first few weeks after being fitted with your orthodontic appliance you may experience some discomfort that can make eating anything a challenge. So, what kind of discomfort can you expect? According to orthodontists, many patients have reported feeling some pain and soreness for a period of a few weeks following the installation of their orthodontic appliances, most notably along the gum line.
A good way to remedy the discomfort in the first few weeks is to dilute one teaspoon of salt into an 8oz glass of warm water, and use the mixture as a mouth rinse. This not only reduces the likelihood of infection but also works to reduce pain as well. To help with jaw pain, you’re encouraged to apply a warm heating pad to your jaw. Also, you can try over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen and non-aspirin to resolve any pain or irritation that wasn’t remedied with the heating pad or salt water rinse.
Smart Oral Care
To get the best results from your orthodontic appliances, you should practice smart oral care at home including:
- Removing elastics prior to brushing
- Trying to maneuver your toothbrush in-between the gaps of your braces
- Using an electric toothbrush
- Thoroughly flossing
- Inspecting your orthodontic appliance to make sure you’ve cleaned everything
It is always important to speak with your orthodontist regarding any concerns you may have about at-home care for your orthodontic appliance. For more information about braces, call Dawson Dental at 1-877-542-2043 or visit our contact page here.
There are a large number of misconceptions about veneers and what they can do for your teeth. Porcelain veneers are custom-made shells of tooth-coloured material designed to cover the front surface of your teeth to improve their appearance. Veneers can also provide additional benefits that are not strictly cosmetic. However, there are a variety of misconceptions about veneers that you should be aware of before you decide if this treatment is right for you.
Veneer Treatments are Painful
A common misconception with this treatment is that the application of the porcelain shells is painful. While there might be some slight tenderness on and around the main treatment area, your dentist will provide you with a local anesthesia that numbs the gum surrounding the tooth. Unlike general anesthesia, the local form of anesthesia won’t put you to sleep during the treatment. You might not even need anesthesia. Most patients find the amount of discomfort they experience is minimal even when anesthesia isn’t used.
Once the anesthesia has been administered, your tooth will be cleaned and a small portion of the tooth enamel will be removed in order to make room for the porcelain. A full impression of your tooth will then be taken in order to create the final veneer. In the meantime, a temporary piece of porcelain will be placed on your tooth until the second treatment session.
During the second session, adhesive is placed on the tooth before the final veneer is attached. When the porcelain has been attached to your tooth, a dental curing light will be used to permanently set the adhesive.
The final aspect of the treatment process involves the polishing of the edges of the porcelain, which allows the piece to blend in with the surrounding tooth. Given how straightforward this treatment is, you should experience hardly any discomfort during and after the treatment. If ever you start to experience a substantial amount of pain, tell your dentist immediately. If inflammation starts to occur in the treatment area, it’s likely that you will be prescribed anti-inflammatory medications to keep the swelling down.
Veneers are Unrealistic
Another misconception about veneers is that the white colour of the porcelain is too bright and unnatural. As long as an experienced dentist handles the treatment, you’ll get a shade of white that properly matches the rest of your teeth. Veneers can be made in a wide range of different shades.
When you request veneers, an impression of your tooth is made before the porcelain is crafted into the final veneer that’s placed on the tooth. Your dentist will also measure and match your veneer to the right shade of your teeth.
They Can Replace a Tooth
Many people believe that a veneer can be used as a complete replacement for a tooth that needed to be removed. While this orthodontic solution can restore your damaged or stained tooth to a whiter and more natural appearance, it’s unable to replace the tooth altogether. The veneer needs to be attached to one of your teeth. The types of treatments you might require for a missing tooth include implants and dentures. Your dentist will be able to help you ascertain which treatment is best for your needs.
Your Tooth Needs to be Filed Down
When people hear or read that the tooth will need to be reshaped in order for the veneer to attach properly to it, many of them imagine their entire tooth will be filed down, which can be a frightening proposition that puts them off treatment.
While some reshaping does need to occur with the placement of a veneer, the amount of reshaping is minimal and designed to make sure that any oddities in the shape of your teeth are polished and smoothed out. If you have any questions about what reshaping will do to your teeth, make sure that you ask your dentist during your initial consultation so that you can have peace of mind about the treatment.
Veneers Only Provide Aesthetic Benefits
Although veneers are a form of cosmetic dentistry, this dental solution offers a variety of additional benefits aside from the aesthetic. A veneer can be used to add strength to your teeth, definition to your cheeks, or to rebuild molars that have become chipped or damaged over time. While there are additional benefits to obtain with a veneer, the aesthetic ones will allow you to have a more beautiful and natural smile.
For more information about veneers, call Dawson Dental at 1-877-542-2043 or visit our contact page here.