October 2022

BRUXISM (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind or clench your teeth. In Luganda, it is known as“okumeketa amannyo”. If you have bruxism, you may unconsciously clench your teethwhen you’re awake or even in your sleep.Bruxism varies in degree and it may be mild to severe.Most people who have bruxism may not be aware of the habit and normally are told byfriends or a dental practitioner during an examination.Symptoms of BruxismSome of the symptoms include:• Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose• Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth• Increased tooth pain or sensitivity• Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely• Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness• Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s not from your ear• Dull headache starting in the temples• Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek• Sleep disruption• Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partnerWhat causes Bruxism?The actual causes of bruxism are not completely understood, but it may be due to acombination of physical, psychological and genetic factors.• However, emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension can pose ahigher risk.• Certain drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and amphetamines may alsopose a higher risk.• Having teeth that are missing or crooked can prompt the teeth to grind, and irritationmay be a factor.• Age is a factor as well; bruxism is most common in childhood. Sometimes, it may be aresponse to teething: normally this will disappear by itself. Children with hyperactivitydisorder may have bruxism.How is Bruxism diagnosed?To diagnose bruxism, the dentist will examine you and look for any of the symptoms listedabove. Normally damage to the teeth & pain in the jaw muscles are directing factors.Sometimes X-rays are taken to check the amount of damage caused.Management of BruxismTreatment will depend on the cause of the bruxism. Normally, the aim is to relieve thesymptoms and deal with the underlying cause as practically possible. Behavioural modification can help in improving the symptoms. Stress and anxietytriggers have to be well managed to avoid grinding. The dentist may recommend a mouthguard to avoid further damage to your teeth.However, over time, new mouthguards might be needed as the grinding force canwear them down. If the cause of bruxism is a bad bite, the dentist might recommend orthodontictreatment to correct the bad bite. In cases where tooth damage is great, the dentist might have to rebuild the teeth orplace crowns on the teeth. However, it’s important to always sort the cause beforethis is done. In some cases, your doctor may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime, fora short period.In conclusion, bruxism is not uncommon but one should have regular check-ups to avoidfurther damage. In case a child has bruxism, taking them to a paediatrician can be beneficialto them.

Read More »