Bruxism is defined as the grinding of teeth and/or the clenching of the jaw during sleep.
It’s one of the most common of the sleep disorders, and most of us do it (did it) ts some point in our lives.
Mild cases of bruxism are inconsequential, but health issues arise when the clenching and grinding get more severe. Some of the consequences of bruxism can include:
- Jaw pain
- Unnatural wear of tooth surfaces
- Fracturing of the teeth
- Gum recession
- Neck Pain
Strangely enough, bruxism is now thought to be a “learned behavior” which becomes a habit. Once the original stimulus that started the bruxism goes away, the “habit” can remain. So any cure for this condition has to deal with the habit.
The first person that’s likely to notice the grinding, if it hasn’t already presented itself with pain somewhere, is your dentist. They’ll see unnatural wear of your teeth. The obvious next step for them will be some kind of oral appliance to limit the damage to your teeth (like a mouth guard of sorts). Like all the sleep-meds, this is only a short term band-aid to the condition. You really need some kind of therapy to get at the actual habit behind the grinding.
As with everything else, it’s back to Cognative Behaviour Training (CBT), although this time it’s tougher because your actually asleep when you have the bruxism. Biofeedback seems to be the treatment of the day for bruxism, and it helps to “unlearn” the grinding/clenching habit.
When your doctor or dentist recommends an appliance for this condition, ask about CBT too – the appliance will limit the damage, but the therapy will cure the problem.