What is Bruxism?
There is no mistaking the feeling when your tooth crumbles inside your mouth and the only word your extensive vocabulary can think of is “SSSSHhhittt!!”
My dentist told me it would happen many years ago when the jaw pain was so intense all I could do was cry. I opted at this stage in my youth to not believe him. No way I am wearing a teeth shield to bed each night!
Like I have mentioned when discussing my relationship with pain. I have head pain, it has been with me for years as a shape-shifter. It comes in the form of Migraine, cluster headaches, jaw pain, neuralgia, and sinusitis.
The pain you can feel by simply being a teeth grinder is horrific and the diagnosis of Bruxism came as a shock. “You grind your teeth like a sheep, but sadly yours do not regrow to accommodate this.” Was how my dentist explained it to me.
Bruxism is caused by the pressing, clenching or physical grinding of teeth against each other, often at night. It is normal for people to grind their teeth a little when their teeth are growing, as it is the body’s way of developing a perfect bite. However, tooth grinding can also be brought on by stress and psychological problems.
Grinding your teeth can aggravate the joints in your lower jaw, also known as the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs. This can lead to pain or tightness in the joint area, and even earaches and headaches.
“If you grind your teeth and clench your jaws together it has been suggested that this can act as a trigger for headaches, particularly tension-type headaches, and even migraine. You may grind your teeth at night and not even really be aware that you do this. You may clench your jaw together in times of stress during the day and even in your sleep. Equally, if your jaw is in the wrong position the muscles which you use to move your jaw have to work harder and can get tired. This can lead to muscle spasm.” The Migraine Trust
Unfortunately, teeth grinding can be brought on by anything from physical responses during sleep to psychological pressures of everyday living. It is when this becomes long term and persistent that it can be detrimental to oral health. Grinding can cause permanent damage to the teeth and erosion to the gums and supporting bones.
Signs of Bruxism can also be spotted by aching muscles, limited opening of the mouth migraines and persistent headaches so it is recommended to visit the dentist if you come across any of these signs.
Effects Of Bruxism by The Bruxism Association
Bruxism affects sufferers in many ways. Some of the adverse effects are short-term and disappear when the bruxism does. Others sadly, are long-term or even permanent.
Short-term effects of bruxism
A headache - Bruxism sufferers are three times more likely to suffer from headaches.
Facial myalgia (aching jaw & facial muscles)
Tightness/stiffness of the shoulders
Limitation of mouth opening
Sleep disruption of bed partner due to noise
Excess tooth mobility
Inflamed & receding gums
Long-term effects of bruxism
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (sometimes called TMJD or just TMJ)
Tooth wear & breakage
It is like a massively interconnected cycle, the pain of Fibro makes me stressed and therefore I grind my teeth more as I sleep. This then increases facial pain, neck, and jaw and shoulder pain and so the cycle continues.
I now wear a teeth guard made especially for my mouth by my dentist. I love my teeth and don’t want to lose anymore. You cannot see it once it is in which is a good thing. The guard does not stop the cycle of pain; they are all designed to prevent inadvertent tooth movement. It simply stops the erosion.
Often when you have a chronic illness the pain branches in so many directions it becomes hard to define.
THIS affects THAT which has a direct effect on THAT then THAT make the pain THERE worse and then. Kinda like that really.
NHS DIRECT recommendations for preventing bruxism
To help prevent bruxism, you should:
- have regular dental check-ups
- be aware of how stress and anxiety affect you and find relaxation techniques that work for you
- cut back on your alcohol consumption as it can make sleep bruxism worse
- give up smoking (if you smoke)
- avoid using recreational drugs, such as ecstasy and cocaine
- avoid chewing pens, pencils, and other non-food items
- be aware of when you grind your teeth (if you do it while awake) and try to break the habit by relaxing your jaw muscles
But if like me you have always had regular check-ups, are a qualified complementary therapist so know and perform most relaxation techniques regular, don’t really drink much alcohol, don’t smoke, never taken ecstasy or cocaine, don’t chew pens/pencils then there is not much hope so just smile and write a blog about it.
TOP TIP if you suffer facial pain, jaw ache, neck pain mention it to your dentist as you may have Bruxism also.
ಌ Love and gentle hugs to you all
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