Bruxism, or commonly referred to as teeth grinding during sleep is truly a harrowing and annoying experience especially if the grinding noises are unbearable.

Sleep Bruxism (SB) is simply defined as ‘the oral activity of grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep (American Academy of Sleep Medicine), and is usually associated with sleep arousals.

Is Bruxism/Teeth grinding in children too?

Just like with adults, teeth grinding is also in children too. In most cases, 20%-30% of children will experience this although most outgrow it with age.

They are not aware of the condition and thus close parental/guardian observation is necessary.

Mild grinding may not have any noticeable effects. However, in both children and adults, severe case of Bruxism may have any or all of the following effects besides sleep interruption;

  • Headaches and earaches,
  • Chipped tooth enamel as a result of the grinding,
  • Resultant teeth sensitivity
  • disrupted sleep
  • Could also cause pain on the face and jaws when waking up etc.

It’s time to ask whether these are as result of teeth grinding if all or some of these symptoms are noticed, and its effect on sleep.

What Causes Bruxism/Teeth grinding? 

Any or all of the following three groups of factors can provoke bruxism;

  1. Genetic factors: Studies indicate that if one has this condition, most likely, there are other family members suffering the same fate. Its therefore easy to link it to the family gene,
  2. Psychological factors: These are basically stresses and anxieties. Excess worries easily lead to unconsciously clenching of jaws with back and forth grinding movement.
  3. Exogenous origin factors: This is the third and increasingly becoming a factor in causing bruxism. It’s basically ingestion of stuff such as caffeine, nicotine, drugs, medicines, alcohol etc.

Does Bruxism/Teeth grinding during sleep have Accompanying Disorders?

In most cases, bruxism rarely occurs alone. Consistently, research findings have established a strong link of bruxism being found more frequently in individuals with other existing sleep disorders like snoring, Obstructive sleep Apnoea (OSA).

As stated earlier, sleep arousal is associated with teeth grinding. As such, OSA which is associated with the arousal response, its termination is accompanied by such body activities as snoring, teeth grinding mumbling as well as gasps.

Is there treatment for Bruxism?

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for bruxism. Fortunately however, there are oral appliances like Mouth/Dental Guards and Oral splints for those affected by teeth grinding. Also, there are Earplugs for those who are affected by teeth grinding noises.

The dental guards are helpful in that they prevent damage to the teeth, eliminate grinding noises as well as help inhibit or relieve pains in the jaws.

How mouth guards work to stop teeth grinding during sleep

Mouth guard work by evening out the pressure across the jaw. They create a physical barrier between the upper and lower teeth. This protects teeth from further grinding and would be damage. The interventions above benefits both bruxism sufferers and their roommates/partners and eventually increase quality of sleep for both.

It’s note worthy that mouth guards need cleaning for wholesome oral hygiene.

What are mouth guards made of?

Rubber or plastic make most mouth guards. They can be custom made to fit an individual’s mouth. There are also ready-made and available guards. Unlike the mouth guard, mouth splints are made of harder plastic and are meant to fit precisely over your upper or lower teeth. They perform the same tasks as the mouth guards.

Higher cost and durability of mouth splints is the only difference.

Where exogenous factors like nicotine ingestion could be the cause, one may consider reducing or even cutting intake of the same. Is has been documented on how challenging it is to cut off nicotine especially. However fortunately, there are effective anti-nicotine crave devices and sprays.

All in all, it’s a worthwhile effort to reduce bruxism and ultimately get healthy uninterrupted sleep.

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