Teeth grinding (Bruxism)

Tooth grinding, also known as “bruxism” in colloquial Arabic, is when a person bites or grinds their teeth unintentionally at times other than during meals.

Tooth grinding is more common in children and can affect people of any age.


Teeth grinding during sleep

Tooth grinding during sleep is essentially the same as tooth grinding while awake, but the main difference is that people are often unable to control it while asleep, and it can be difficult for them to recognize.

Sleep bruxism is a common problem, and studies indicate that the prevalence ranges from 6% to 50% in children.

Tooth grinding usually begins with the eruption of teeth and decreases with age. It is estimated that about 8% of adults suffer from tooth grinding during sleep in adolescence, and only 3% in older adults.


Causes of teeth grinding during sleep

The reasons for tooth grinding during sleep are not entirely clear to doctors, but it may be related to physical, psychological, and genetic factors.

Daytime bruxism may be due to negative emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, or frustration, or it may be due to a habit during deep concentration. Sleep bruxism may be due to excessive mental activity or mind arousal during sleep.

There are several factors that increase the risk of tooth grinding during sleep, and no single cause can fully explain tooth grinding. However, some risk factors are associated with increased likelihood of tooth grinding during sleep.

1. Stress:

Stress and nervous tension are considered the most important factors associated with an increased risk of tooth grinding, as tooth grinding is a common response to negative emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, and frustration. Tooth grinding can develop from neural responses to these emotions during sleep.

2. Age:

Tooth grinding is common in young children and may disappear with age. However, teenagers and older adults are more likely to experience tooth grinding during sleep.

3. Personality:

Competitive, excessive, or aggressive behavior may contribute to an increased risk of tooth grinding.

4. Genetic factor:

Sleep bruxism is moderately associated with families, as about half of those affected have a family history of tooth grinding.

5. Harmful habits:

Excessive consumption of alcohol, tobacco, or caffeine may increase the risk of tooth grinding.

6. Medications:

Some psychiatric medications, such as antidepressants, may cause tooth grinding during sleep.

7. Medical conditions:

Sleep bruxism may be associated with some medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, dementia (Alzheimer’s), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), night panic attacks, and sleep-related disorders such as sudden sleep apnea.


The Medical Diagnosis

Teeth grinding is usually diagnosed during a visit to the dentist, either during a routine check-up or for other reasons such as pain or surface wear of the teeth. The dentist will examine the teeth and talk to the patient to determine the causes of teeth grinding and the risk factors.

The diagnostic process may include:

1. Oral Examination:

The dentist will examine the mouth and teeth for any changes in the grinding surface of the back teeth or in the borders of the front teeth.

2. Medical History:

The patient will be asked to talk about symptoms of teeth grinding and any factors that may increase the likelihood of it happening.

3. Possible Causes:

The dentist will discuss possible causes of teeth grinding such as stress, age, genetic factors, and medications used.

4. X-Rays:

In some cases, the process may involve taking jaw x-rays to determine the damage that teeth grinding may have caused.

5. Specialist Consultation:

In some cases, the dentist may refer the patient to a specialist or psychiatrist to evaluate the condition more thoroughly.

6. Determining Appropriate Treatment:

Based on the diagnosis, the dentist will provide suitable treatment options which may include behavioral treatments such as identifying teeth grinding sites and addressing psychological influences or medication treatments to reduce teeth grinding during sleep.


Symptoms and Problems of Teeth Grinding

Although teeth grinding often occurs in the absence of the person experiencing it, symptoms that may indicate a problem include:

1. Wear of the Grinding Surface of Teeth:

There may be wear and distortion on the grinding surface of the back teeth.

2. Nerve and Pulp Exposure:

Enamel erosion may expose the nerve and pulp, causing sensitivity to cold and hot and sometimes continuous pain.

3. Stiffness and Hardening in Jaw Muscles:

Stiffness or hardening of jaw muscles may occur, and there may be pain when pressing on the muscles outside the mouth.

4. Loud Grinding Noise:

There may be a loud grinding noise during sleep.

5. Jaw, Neck, Face, and Ear Pain:

There may be pain in the jaw, neck, face, and ear due to teeth grinding.

6. Sleep Disorders:

Teeth grinding may cause sleep disorders.


Treatment for Teeth Grinding

"Teeth grinding" is a constant or repetitive movement of the teeth, which occurs when the upper teeth rub against the lower teeth. This friction can be due to involuntary and normal mouth movements during sleep and is considered a common phenomenon. Teeth grinding may be caused by factors such as stress, or it may be related to psychological disorders, such as anxiety or depression. In some cases, the grinding may result from jaw or tooth deformities or sleep problems such as oxygen deficiency. However, teeth grinding can also occur without any known factors.

As for treatment, teeth grinding is managed by addressing symptoms and minimizing damage. Medical devices such as dental guards (night guard) can be used to protect teeth and face from erosion and control grinding during sleep. In case of muscle or jaw problems, the dentist may recommend physical therapy, massage, injections, or medications, and in more severe cases, surgical treatments may be needed to repair severe erosion or correct muscle or jaw problems.

Stress reduction therapy is a common approach to treating teeth grinding. Relaxation techniques such as relaxation, meditation, and deep breathing can help reduce tension and nerve pressure, preventing grinding and reducing symptoms.

Mouth and teeth guards are an effective way to reduce damage from teeth grinding and improve sleep quality. These guards can help reduce pressure from teeth grinding and improve jaw positioning.

Lower jaw appliances can reduce snoring and sleep apnea during sleep, improve breathing and sleep.

Mouth exercises can be helpful in strengthening muscles and improving jaw movement, reducing pain and tension.

A patient suffering from teeth grinding should seek the advice of a dentist for accurate diagnosis, appropriate treatment, and individual guidance.

Treatment for teeth grinding during sleep is a combination of various options to overcome pain and other symptoms and reduce the severity of grinding and its potential consequences. This treatment may include:

1. Stress Reduction:

Stress and nervous tension are common causes of teeth grinding, so relaxation techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation may be helpful in reducing mental pressure and stress.

2. Use of Mouthguards:

Mouthguards designed for sleep can help reduce pressure on the teeth, reduce tooth damage and reduce pain and symptoms.

3. Use of Jaw Devices:

Jaw devices are used during sleep to change the jaw position and reduce muscle pressure.

4. Reducing Sleep-Related Pressure:

Sleep regulation can be improved and sleep-related pressure can be reduced by changing position or pillow.

5. Use of Medications:

The dentist may recommend medications such as muscle relaxants or antidepressants to help reduce pressure and stress.

6. Surgical Interventions:

In severe cases, surgical treatment may be required to correct damage and reshape the jaw or teeth.

7. Medical Follow-Up:

It is important to follow up regularly with the doctor to evaluate progress and adjust treatment based on individual needs.

8. Continuous Assessment:

Regular doctor follow-up is important to evaluate progress and adjust treatment based on individual needs.

These methods are not the only possible ways to treat teeth grinding, and the dentist will provide individual advice and guidance based on the patient’s condition and needs.

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