Bruxism is an odontological problem – with consequences that can be extremely negative for the functioning of our mind – which consists of clenching the teeth, upper and lower, very hard , and making them grind. This problem is normally unconscious, so any prevention or intervention is very complicated.
Bruxism can occur during the day or at night, although the problem is more important during sleep because it is much more difficult to control. There is disagreement about the cause of bruxism, but it seems that everyday stress can be the psychological trigger for many people.
Bruxism affects both men and women. Its prevalence decreases with age: 14% of children suffer from it, against 12% of adolescents and 8% of adults. It must be taken into account that an early diagnosis is fundamental to avoid problems with dental health and quality of sleep.
Causes and symptoms of bruxism
If we wake up with pain in the facial muscles or a headache, we may be experiencing the most typical symptoms of bruxism. Bruxism causes dental pain; teeth can also loosen and eventually fall out. In addition, it destroys the bone in the tooth and causes joint problems, such as temporomandibular joint syndrome.
Affected people rarely know they are grinding their teeth. They also do not perceive the symptoms because they occur, in the majority of cases, unconsciously during the phase of sleep. It is only when the squeaking reaches a certain point that tension can appear or a hardening of the facial musculature occurs.
Sometimes there is pain in the teeth, jaw joints, face, temples and ears. In some cases, the pain occurs throughout the head. If the teeth grinding is prolonged over time, the tensions extend to the neck and shoulders.
The precise causes of bruxism have not yet been established. However, several favorable factors have been identified:
- Stress and anxiety
- A period of awakening during the phase of light sleep, a greater expression of the disorder
- Sleeping on your back
- The habits we have for getting to sleep
- Inadequate alignment of teeth
Treatment of bruxism
The appropriate treatment will be linked to the cause because it is about getting to the root and not just trying to stop the symptoms. Relaxation techniques can help us a lot because stress seems to be the main cause of bruxism. Any initiative that effectively reduces stress can help, such as listening to music, reading, or walking.
In cases where the key factor is any psychological disorder, such as anxiety, it is recommended to learn complementary relaxation and physiotherapy techniques , treating the phases of acute pain with anti-inflammatory drugs and muscle relaxants.
Psychological therapy helps reduce episodes of bruxism as the patient learns to relax and control himself. Actions aimed at reducing anxiety can modulate the influence exerted by the hypothalamus and the limbic system on the regulation of muscle tone.
Treatment of bruxism seeks to reduce symptoms and helps maintain healthy teeth. If the disorder persists, the patient can be referred to a specialist: otolaryngologist, sleep doctor, physiotherapist or psychologist.