The Basics of Bruxism

Interdental brushes

Like most things in the world of medicine, there’s a straight-forward word or phrase to use when describing a certain medical condition, and then there’s a very complicated and seemingly unrelated word that you’re just supposed to know, somehow. When it comes to teeth grinding… well, that’s the simple way of putting it. The complicated word that you’ll often hear thrown around, though, is “bruxism.”

The Definition: Bruxism is a fairly simple concept, with unfortunate and painful consequences. Thousands of people grind their teeth together, usually without realizing what they’re doing, or without being able to stop themselves from doing it. Although it can occur during the day, most often, people grind their teeth at night — meaning that a) they have no idea that they’re doing it and have no way of stopping it; and b) bruxism is actually classified as a sleep disorder, much like sleep apnea or sleep walking.

The Causes: The causes of teeth grinding can be pretty hard to pinpoint, but researchers have figured out that people with other sleep disorders are more likely to grind their teeth at night too. For anyone who grinds their teeth during the day, once people become aware of what they’re doing and when they’re doing it, they often find that teeth grinding is their body’s response to increased stress and anxiety.

The Treatment: Methods of bruxism treatment can vary, due to whether the patient experiences daytime or nighttime grinding, how serious the habit is, how long it’s been going on for, and if any other dental health problems have been caused because of it. Most dentists provide their patients with mouth guards to prevent nighttime grinding, but in many cases, patients simply have to stay aware of their daytime stresses and perhaps find alternative stress-reducing exercises and activities.

While the consequences of bruxism can be quite serious if left untreated and they may require dental surgery at some point, it is definitely a habit that’s easy to diagnose and treat these days. See this link for more references.

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