What is bruxism?

Bruxism is a sleep disorder that affects nearly 8% of adults and 14% of children. Involuntary jaw muscle contractions cause the upper and lower teeth to grind together.

While it generally occurs at night, it can also happen during the day. And, despite the many clues that may point to bruxism, a definitive diagnosis can only be given by a sleep disorder specialist.

Types of bruxism

Static bruxism generally occurs during the day and is characterized by the silent gritting of one’s teeth. It can lead to pain in the jaw, neck and shoulders. Headaches and tinnitus may also occur.

Dynamic bruxism is commonly known as grinding one’s teeth. The jaw muscles contract, causing teeth to grind against each other side-to-side or front-and-back. Occurring mainly at night, dynamic bruxism causes an audible noise.

Symptoms and consequences

  • Fatigue or headache upon waking
  • Progressive wearing out of the enamel
  • Premature wearing down of teeth
  • Broken fillings
  • Gingival recession
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Enlargement of jaw muscles
  • Temporomandibular joint dysfunction
  • Tinnitus or earaches

Possible causes and treatment

Bruxism is caused by many factors, including occlusal problems, stress, anxiety and some disorders.

Here are a few tips to treat or minimize it:

  • Adopt a healthy sleep routine
  • Manage stress through relaxation techniques
  • See a specialist, like a physiotherapist
  • Wear a bite plate
  • Stop smoking
  • Minimize noise in your bedroom

Bite plates

A bite plate is similar to a mouth guard, but it is custom-made. It’s worn at night to prevent upper and lower teeth from touching. It also helps relax facial muscles to reduce pressure on the jaw.