Bruxism is a term referred to clenching and grinding of the teeth that is done unknowingly and at inappropriate times. People suffering from bruxism do not know that they have developed this kind of mannerism and causes damage to the teeth and mouth. The enamel of the teeth and the interior of the cheeks can be damaged by bruxism.
Bruxism or jaw clenching are common among children while they are sleeping and complain of pain in the jaw upon waking up. Adults who clench their jaw during sleeping are suffering from sleep disorders such as snoring and sleep apnea.
Sporadic chomping of the teeth and jaw does not cause any symptoms, but bruxism can cause damage to the teeth, pain in the jaw, receding gums and headaches.
What causes jaw clenching?
- Deformity of the jaw since birth
- Stress and anger
- Brain damage
- Changes in the dietary pattern
- An allergic reaction to a drug
- High levels of alcohol in the blood
- A traumatic injury to the jaw
- Too much smoking and chewing of tobacco
- Neurological and psychiatric disorders such as Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease and Down’s syndrome
- Hyperactive personality
Treatment and home remedies for bruxism
- Proper management of stress since it helps minimize jaw clenching. The individual should perform relaxation techniques such as yoga, listening to music and meditation. Exercise and changes in lifestyle will help minimize clenching of the jaw as well.
- For night time jaw clenching, use a mouth guard in order to prevent damage to the teeth. A mouth guard is a covering that provides protection to the teeth from injury caused by tooth-grinding and frequent use of mouth guard minimizes grinding of the teeth.
- Apply a warm compress on the jaw as often as possible since it helps relax the clenching muscles which cause headaches.
- Take a prescribed muscle relaxant since it is helpful when jaw clenching is caused by medications and drugs.
- Avoid caffeinated drinks, tobacco and alcohol since they can cause worsening of jaw clenching.
- Apply a hot and damp towel to the face to help with blood circulation around the face. It relaxes the jaws and prevents clenching. Soak a clean towel in hot water for a few minutes, then squeeze the water out and cover the face at least 20 minutes until the towel cools down.
- Exercise the face by munching on vegetables that are crunchy every night before going to bed such as carrots, broccoli or apples. Chewing is a helpful facial exercise that minimizes tooth-grinding by keeping the jaw and mouth calm.
- Keep the head and neck elevated when sleeping. Remember that bruxism usually happens while sleeping on the back with the head resting flat. A slight elevation of the head and neck using a firm and comfortable pillow can help a individual with bruxism breathe easier as well as keeping the head relaxed.