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Bruxism or teeth grinding at night: Why it happens and how it is treated

Do you notice that when you wake up in the morning you are tired and your jaw hurts? It is probably due to a quite common problem: bruxism, a pathology that affects more than 70% of the adult population, although many of them do not know it, and that adolescents have increased their figures in recent years. years until you reach 30%.

Bruxism is the habit of clenching and grinding the teeth, which usually happens while we sleep (that is why in many cases people are not aware of suffering), but it can also happen during the day. It is related to stress and can affect our day to day.

The causes of bruxism

Although at present we do not know with certainty the causes of bruxism, we do know that it is directly related to the situations of stress and anxiety that we suffer in our daily life. This grinding of teeth is, therefore, a symptom that something in our body does not work properly: a way that our body has to release the tension accumulated during the day.

The malocclusion, that is, the misalignment of the teeth, and other dental alterations are also usually related to the problem of bruxism.

Although the most common is that bruxism occurs while we are asleep, it can also appear during the day , referring to this pathology as diurnal bruxism or bruxism of wakefulness. It is an involuntary habit and without any specific function that can appear and disappear at any time of the day or night.

The symptoms of bruxism

Sometimes, especially when we speak of bruxism in its mildest stages (when it occurs for a short period of time and occasionally, as in grade I), bruxism can be asymptomatic and appear and disappear without even realizing it.

When bruxism becomes an established habit it usually causes headaches, jaw pain, other muscular pains for example related to the musculature of the upper back and neck, sensitivity in the teeth to cold or heat or pain in the ears.

One of the most serious consequences of bruxism is the damage received by the teeth when tightening the jaw and much more when grinding between them. From the wear of the dental enamel, which protects the piece, to the partial or complete breakage of teeth, when the bruxism is very aggressive.

The treatment of bruxism

As we said before, bruxism is a symptom that appears because of daily stress and anxiety, so the most important thing to control it is to go to the focus of the problem. Understanding the situation that is causing stress throughout the day and stopping it with the help of professionals or other relaxation techniques is the surest way to treat bruxism.

Once diagnosed by the dentist, part of the treatment also consists of the creation of a splint of discharge that helps us to release the tension of the jaw at night without danger to our teeth. These splints are personal and non-transferable, are made from a mold of our own mouth and are usually made of acrylic : a rigid and transparent material that acts as a mechanical separation of the teeth preventing wear.

Previously they were using soft silicone splints, similar to the mouth guards for athletes, but nowadays its use is not recommended since it is a soft surface that can stimulate the tightening of the teeth, as well as being easier to break.

We must bear in mind that the splints act as a “patch” or a temporary solution in the treatment of bruxism: the most usual is that the patient uses it for a while, stop doing it when they have remitted the symptoms (sleeping with a splint not it is the most comfortable thing in the world) and, as a result, these symptoms reappear.

Locating what is the focus of stress and anxiety that motivates us to clench and grind our teeth unconsciously will help us more than the long-term splint in the treatment of bruxism.

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