Bruxism - Symptoms, causes and treatment

Bruxism is a habit of grinding and grinding teeth that is done unconsciously. This habit can be experienced by anyone, from children to adults. If this habit is not treated, people with bruxism have the potential to experience severe damage to their teeth.

In many cases, bruxism occurs spontaneously when a person is concentrating, feeling anxious, or experiencing excessive stress.

Bruxism may not initially cause serious health problems. However, over time, bruxism can have a bigger impact, such as tooth decay, headaches, and disorders of the jaw that can cause discomfort.

Most people are not aware of bruxism until complications develop. Therefore, it is important for all of us to know the causes and symptoms of this condition in order to avoid a bigger impact.

Causes of Bruxism

Bruxism does not happen all the time, but appears when a person is under certain conditions, for example when he is under stress. However, until now it is not known exactly what causes bruxism.

There are several physical and psychological factors that can trigger the occurrence of bruxism, namely:

  • Feeling anxious, stressed, angry, frustrated, or tense
  • Have personality traits that are aggressive, competitive, or hyperactive
  • Having a family member with bruxism
  • Have a sleep disorder, for example sleep apnea or sleep paralysis (overlapping)
  • Leading an unhealthy lifestyle, such as smoking, consuming alcoholic beverages, or using drugs
  • Suffering from certain diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, dementia, acid reflux disease, or epilepsy
  • Taking drugs phenothiazines, such as chlorpromazine, and some types of antidepressant drugs

Bruxism in children

Bruxism is also common in children when they are first teething and will recur when they begin to have permanent teeth. Generally, bruxism will stop when the child begins to enter adolescence.

Just like adults, bruxism in children can be triggered by stress, for example when they are about to face a school exam. In addition, bruxism in children also occurs due to the influence of other conditions, such as an abnormal arrangement of the upper and lower teeth, ADHD, malnutrition, allergies, and pinworm infections.

Symptoms of Bruxism

A person with bruxism has a habit of grinding, pressing, or grinding their teeth up and down, or right and left unconsciously. This can trigger other symptoms, such as:

  • The top surface of the teeth becomes flat (not jagged)
  • Teeth become more sensitive
  • Jaw muscles tense up
  • Headache
  • Earache

Bruxism can occur during the day or at night, but is more common when a person is asleep.sleep bruxism). This can cause sleep disturbances in people with bruxism and their sleep partners because they are disturbed by the sound of grinding teeth.

Moreover, someone who has sleep bruxism generally also have other habits related to sleep disorders, such as snoring or stopping breathing for a while during sleep (sleep apnea).

When to go to the doctor

Check with your doctor or dentist if your sleeping partner says that you grind your teeth a lot when you sleep, especially if you are also experiencing the above symptoms. Early examination can prevent you from complications of bruxism.

Diagnosis of Bruxism

First, the doctor will conduct a question and answer session about the patient's complaints and symptoms, sleeping habits, daily routines, and regular use of medicines.

Next, the doctor will examine the condition of the patient's teeth to see the extent of erosion or damage to the teeth. The doctor will also assess the stiffness in the patient's jaw muscles and jaw joint movement.

If necessary, the doctor will also perform a panoramic photo examination, to see tooth decay or jaw conditions in more detail.

Bruxism Treatment

In most cases, bruxism does not require special treatment. Children with bruxism can heal on their own without special treatment. In adults, treatment will usually be carried out if the habit of grinding teeth is too severe and causes tooth decay.

Actions that the doctor may take include:

  • Giving protective teeth while sleeping to prevent tooth decay from getting worse
  • Installation crown new teeth to repair badly damaged teeth
  • Giving muscle relaxants to be consumed before bed
  • Giving Botox injections to the jaw to relax stiff jaw muscles
  • Giving pain relievers to treat jaw pain and facial pain

In addition, the doctor will advise the patient to compress and do light massage on the sore muscles.

As is well known, bruxism can be triggered by other conditions, such as illness or the use of certain medications. Therefore, the doctor will also address the trigger for bruxism if found.

For bruxism caused by stress or anxiety, some therapy will also be suggested to reduce the habit of grinding teeth. Therapies that can be done include:

  • Therapy to reduce stress and anxiety, such as meditation and yoga
  • Therapy biofeedback with the help of electromyography, to familiarize the patient with controlling jaw muscle activity whenever the muscles are tensed
  • Behavioral change therapy, to get the patient used to stopping bruxism whenever he notices it

If the bruxism does not improve with the above therapies, the doctor may refer the patient to a psychiatrist. Short-term administration of anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants accompanied by cognitive behavioral therapy can help patients control their anxiety and teeth grinding habits.

Complications of Bruxism

In some cases, severe bruxism can lead to serious complications. Here are some complications that may occur, including:

  • Teeth become cracked, loose, and even fall out.
  • Long term tension headaches
  • Long term facial and ear pain
  • Jaw joint inflammation
  • Face shape change
  • Insomnia
  • Tooth infection or even tooth abscess

In extreme cases, bruxism can interfere with the sufferer when chewing, speaking, and swallowing. If left untreated, this can have an adverse impact on the nutritional intake and social life of the sufferer.

Bruxism Prevention

Prevention and treatment of bruxism can start with yourself. The following are some ways that can be done to prevent bruxism:

  • Reduce excessive stress by doing fun activities such as listening to music, taking a warm bath, or exercising.
  • Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages, smoking, or using illegal drugs.
  • Avoid drinks that contain a lot of caffeine, such as coffee, energy drinks, and chocolate, especially at bedtime.
  • Stay away from the habit of biting a pencil or pen.
  • Reduce the habit of eating chewing gum.
  • Relax your jaw before going to bed by placing a warm towel on your cheeks and ears every day.
  • Practice reducing bruxism by pinching the tip of your tongue between your upper and lower teeth.
  • Maintain the same sleep schedule and adequate sleep each day.
  • Check with the dentist regularly.