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Bruxism, Cause and Effect

Bruxism is a medical term used to describe a condition in which a person grinds and clenches the jaw. There are times where a person grinds his/her teeth without causing any problems or symptoms. Persistent and regular teeth grinding can cause discomfort and jaw pain, and can also wear down the teeth of the victim. There are some instances where it has caused earache and headaches. Nearly 80% of the cases of teeth grinding occur subconsciously when a person is asleep. The condition has been associated with a number of things such as anxiety and stress.

There are some people who have been affected by this condition while the have been awake. The common symptoms they observe is clenching the teeth rather than grinding the teeth. A person will do this subconsciously while they are concentrating on other activities that might be stressful.  There are people who experienced this condition for a short period of time before it went away. It is more common in stressful periods.

Many people often times don't know they have this condition. This is especially true because when they are asleep, they don't know what’s going on in their mouths.  Sometimes they might find a broken or crooked tooth.

Causes of Bruxism
There is no specific cause that has been found to directly cause the condition. The earlier belief was that the condition was casually related to dental occlusion, but that has not been supported by any evidence. There are researches that have been done that have shown that neither occlusal interference nor oral facial skeleton had any role in the etiology of bruxism. Below are some things that have been shown to cause the condition.

Sleep Disorder
Bruxism has been found to be more common in people with sleeping disorders such as snoring, breathing pauses when sleeping and Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Other parasomnias like sleep talking, violent or injurious behavior during sleep and sleep paralysis. There also studies that have shown people with hypnagogic/hypnopompic hallucinations also suffer from bruxism. OSA is the highest risk factor associated with the condition. The termination of the apnoea event is accompanied by other phenomena such as tooth grinding, gasps and snoring.

Lifestyle Factors
Lifestyle and demographic factors like caffeine intake, smoking, higher educational status and young age have been shown to be co-factors of bruxism. People who use psychoactive substances such as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco or medications for anxiety, depression, and sleep increases arousal and will result in problems falling asleep, daytime sleepiness and staying asleep. There is a higher level of bruxism in people who use these psychoactive substances compared to those who don't.

Stress, Anxiety, and other psychological Components
Stress, anxiety and mental disorders have been significantly linked to this condition. Nearly 70% of bruxism occurs as a result of anxiety or stress. There are many physical ailments that have psychological components that affects the ability of one to recover and vulnerability to illness. The frequency and severity of the condition will vary from one person to another. 

There are a number of treatments available to prevent the condition and reduce the severity.

Mouth guards and mouth splints

They even the pressure across the jaw and creates a barrier between the lower and the upper teeth to prevent them from further damage. They are known to also reduce the grinding noises when sleeping. 

Treatment of the underlying cause

Psychological treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy can be used in the treatment of the underlying problem like anxiety and stress that may be causing the teeth to grind. If the bruxism you are experiencing is as a result of stress, then you should use relaxation techniques like yoga, reading and massage.


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