Sitting outside the dentist’s office, with anxiety running high as I was about to have my first ever dental treatment had me chewing on my lips and looking for something to take my mind off of what was about to happen. It was then that my eyes landed on a poster talking about the dental treatments the clinic was offering and below that was a list of symptoms that result in tooth damage and one of those symptoms was of grinding and clenching your teeth.
Upon reading that I smirked to myself believing that I was not someone who ground or clenched her teeth. Yes, I have a nasty habit of biting and chewing on my lips but grinding and clenching my teeth is not something I ever engaged in.
Oh, how very wrong I was.
Fast forward to the present, I began to notice a strange soreness in my inner cheek every time I woke up. It didn’t happen every morning but it did begin to happen quite often that I began to wonder—at the back of my mind—why was this happening to me?
On top of that, a member of the household told me that I grind and clench my teeth while sleeping. I didn’t believe it at first, putting it off to some other strange noises people make during sleep. But it was only when I was lost in the vortex of dreams and the words, “she is doing it again” penetrated my consciousness did I become aware of the grinding noise that was being emitted by none other than me. And that’s when I began doing my research and came across the term:
What is Bruxism?
Defined as the grinding or clenching of teeth whether during sleep or when you are awake, Bruxism is a condition which is as much psychological in nature as it is dental. Though the first recommendation is to visit a dentist in order to get the diagnosis, Bruxism seems to have underlying psychological causes.
Bruxism not only occurs during sleep, which makes it an involuntary action but it occurs when the person is awake as well, which makes it more of a voluntary action. And it occurs more in female—when it comes to being awake but in regards to sleep bruxism there seemed to be no difference in males and females.
Moreover, when it comes to the causes, Bruxism seemed to have quite a few of them and then it all comes down to individual differences which results in different people having different experiences with it.
Reasons Behind Bruxism
First one, right of the bat, is habit. When people are used to grinding their teeth or biting their lips, it results in Bruxism. You may not be thinking about clenching your teeth but your brain and muscles are used to working in such a manner that you end up grinding your teeth even when you are not deliberately thinking about doing it.
Furthermore, one of the more popular causes of Bruxism, and every other illness or condition, is Stress. We all have experienced grinding our teeth and clenching our jaws when under stress, so this behavior pattern leading to Bruxism should not come as much of a surprise.
Moreover, people suffering from anxiety tend to be more prone towards developing Bruxism along with other psychosocial factors such as unemployment, failed relationships, poverty and having a hectic work schedule.
One cannot forget the role of genetics when it comes to Bruxism. And though there has been research done to indicate that someone suffering from Bruxism tends to pass on this condition to his or her offspring, there is no concrete evidence available which points to a particular genotype.
Certain types of medication can result in Bruxism along with the structure of your teeth. The placement of your teeth is believed to play a major role in the development of Bruxism and in the past that is what people believed i.e. the misalignment of teeth results in clenching and grinding as the mind tries to ‘fix’ the misalignment.
With the list of causes stated above, and if you think you exhibit symptoms such as pain in the jaw or teeth or soreness inside the cheeks, one needs to consult a dentist in order to get the proper diagnosis.
The dentist would check for signs of Bruxism and if the diagnosis is confirmed your dentist would recommend the next course of action.
However, Bruxism often goes undetected until its too late because one does not pay attention to such a behavior pattern until the damage is done; which is why it is always better to be cautious and keep visiting the dentist regularly, even though it is terrifying at times.
Remedies for Bruxism
There are quite a few things you can do when it comes to combating Bruxism. People who suffer from sleep Bruxism can purchase mouth guards which can help prevent them from gnashing their teeth in their sleep.
Practicing Yoga and Meditation is another remedy, as the whole point of meditation is to relax the mind and body; releasing stress which would lead to a drop in Bruxism as one tends to clench and grind his or her teeth during stress.
If meditation is not your cup of tea, then engaging in activities that help you de-stress such as: listening to music, painting, journaling, jogging can also help in treating Bruxism.
Moreover, if your doctor has prescribed medication to help you combat Bruxism, then the use of medication can help relax the muscles and prevent your teeth from grinding and gnashing themselves from getting damaged, because as Copernicus one said,
“Behind every smile there is teeth.”
Food for Thought
1) Is there anyone you know who suffers from Bruxism?
2) If so then what suggestions would you given them to combat Bruxism?
Image by <a href=”https://pixabay.com/users/westfrisco-5450454/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2351844″>Natalia Ovcharenko</a> from <a href=”https://pixabay.com/?utm_source=link-attribution&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=image&utm_content=2351844″>Pixabay</a>