Causes and Treatment of Sleep Bruxism

The Truth About Bruxism

It is estimated that around ten per cent of the population suffer from bruxism, a condition characterised by grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. Over time bruxism causes tooth wearing, damage and even breakage. Disorders of the jaw can also occur, causing pain and limited movement. Bruxism in most common in adults aged between twenty five and forty five but it is also known for children to grind their teeth.

There are two types of bruxism, classified as awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. Symptoms of sleep bruxism include continuous teeth grinding and rhythmic jaw muscle contractions. Some cases of bruxism can be related to other medical conditions and the use of certain medications. Anti depressants and recreational drugs are known to cause teeth grinding as are medical conditions such as anxiety and depression.

Studies have shown that sleep bruxism usually occurs as a response to arousals during sleep, thus denoting a possible sleep disorder. When the person grinds their teeth, it is done in clusters and these are associated with arousals. It is thought that obstructive sleep apnoea is strongly related to sleep bruxism and the teeth grinding and jaw clenching comes about when breathing is obstructed. Often the individual will also snore, gasp for breath and even mumble as part of the bruxism occurrence. Other causes of sleep bruxism are associated with sleep walking, anxiety and stress and other medical conditions which cause sleep disorders.

Although there is no cure for sleep bruxism it can be managed and preventative measures taken to reduce further damage to both the teeth and jaw. Mouth guards, pain relief medication and stress management are the usual form of treatment used when dealing with bruxism.

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