Bruxism Frequently Asked Questions
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a very common disorder. Left unchecked, it can lead to many serious health concerns. Those suffering from bruxism often have many questions about the condition before visiting a dentist.
Are TMJ and bruxism the same thing?
These disorders are often confused because they are closely related. Bruxism specifically refers to the grinding of teeth. TMJ is a disorder associated with joint pain, and bruxism is a primary cause. In short, bruxism may lead to TMJ, which can present many serious symptoms, but minor pain and irritation does not necessarily reflect anything more advanced than sore muscles from teeth grinding. However, both are very serious and warrant dentist intervention to prevent worsening symptoms.
What are the symptoms of bruxism?
While the cause and most obvious symptom is teeth grinding, which may occur while awake or asleep, not every patient will know whether this is taking place. Often, a partner or other observer will inform a sufferer long after bruxism has developed.
For this reason, it is important to realize that bruxism may or may not be apparent by the presence of other symptoms. Eroded enamel, aches and pains in the face and jaw region or the development of TMJ can all be caused by bruxism. It is important to visit a dentist at the first sign of any pain or concerns regardless of whether bruxism is suspected.
How is bruxism diagnosed?
Since teeth grinding often occurs at night during sleep, it might seem like it would be difficult for a dentist to accurately diagnosis bruxism. A dentist can detect the enamel erosion patterns of bruxism upon inspection. This wear and tear is often too significant to be caused by anything other than grinding, especially if it has occurred in a relatively short window of time.
Who develops bruxism?
While bruxism can affect anyone, there are numerous risk factors. The largest is stress, which can be difficult to control. Someone who consumes excessive amounts of alcohol or caffeine can also be prone to bruxism.
How can bruxism be prevented?
The best way to combat the potential for bruxism is to minimize stress. Of course, this is easier said than done, but counseling and exercise may help alleviate tension. Additionally, it would be wise to lessen the consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
How is bruxism treated?
Patients often fear that an uncomfortable device is necessary to treat bruxism. In fact, mouthguards are the primary method of treatment, but are perfectly comfortable. It is important, however, to visit a dentist to receive a properly fitted mouthguard rather than a generic one available in retail stores.
Mouthguards fit over the bottom teeth, creating a barrier between the upper and lower jaw. A proper fit will prevent damage from grinding and should not cause irritation.
A vast majority of patients do not need further treatments, although minor pain relievers are common in the interim. Muscle relaxants and sedatives may also be used, although with a mouthguard in place, these are used to achieve comfort that will result in better sleep. It may be recommended that the patient visit a physical therapist or seek counseling for stress.
Bruxism is very common, leading many patients to believe it is relatively harmless. However, it can lead to serious health problems, and a dentist should be consulted for a diagnosis, as well as to answer any questions. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call our office today.
Request an appointment here: https://www.gablesexceptionaldentistry.com or call Gables Exceptional Dentistry at (305) 203-4132 for an appointment in our Coral Gables office.
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