It’s estimated that as many as 1 in 3 people suffers from it yet not everyone who does are aware that they do. Bruxism is the excessive clenching and grinding of your teeth and often occurs during your sleep.
Causing worn and damaged teeth, sore jaws, ear and headaches, and a noisy nuisance for a partner sleeping next to you, it may seem like a trivial problem but over time it can lead to tooth loss and serious joint dysfunction if left untreated.
The Hidden Habit
While some people grind their teeth in the daytime though habit, around 80% of people suffer Bruxism during their sleep. What makes it even harder to diagnose is the fact that it often occurs silently.
The only true tell-tale sign comes from signs of increased wear on the teeth themselves. Because this can also be caused by poor diet, acidic drinks and vigorous brushing using abrasive toothpaste, it requires a dental professional to correctly identify it. The difference in how your teeth have been worn is what they will look for, therefore, a regular trip to the dentist is important for more reasons than people often realize.
A Fast Solution
Once you know you suffer from Bruxism, you will need to find a cure. While not a cure, the use of a protective mouthguard in your sleep can greatly help by preventing further damage being caused.
While some guards can cost upwards of $1,000 each, there are high-quality yet inexpensive options available. These will prevent your teeth sustaining structural damage from grinding and can also reduce headaches and other associated ailments with Bruxism. While they can also help prevent snoring, they are only a temporary solution which can buy you time to fully identify and remedy the problem.
The Silent Killer
The cause of this affliction can be varied but stress and anxiety are thought to often be a key factor. Stress can affect everyone, young or old, and frequently seems to be blamed for many health problems which have an unknown cause. However, several independent studies have shown that treating stress can relieve Bruxism leading to general agreement across the medical world regarding this connection.
A healthy lifestyle including stress-relieving practices is the simplest solution to this problem. Not everyone wishes to take up Yoga, but there are plenty of de-stressing activities you can incorporate into your daily routine. What can greatly help is simply to find some spare time for yourself every evening to unwind before sleep.
Just say no!
The connection may seem tenuous at best, however, poor lifestyle choices can also lead to Bruxism. Beyond sleeping on your back and poor sleep hygiene, taking both legal and illegal stimulant drugs is likely to cause problems with teeth grinding.
This includes drinking coffee and alcohol, smoking and some medications such as antidepressants, in addition to illicit drug use. Refraining from taking these types of substances close to bedtime will prevent your muscles being provoked into action.
For anyone suffering major problems with stress, your doctor may choose to prescribe a course of antidepressants or muscle relaxers. This, however, is something which should only be undertaken in more extreme circumstances and with professional medical guidance.
For all other cases, there are some steps you can take to help your body cope with stress. Taking vitamin supplements can help your body naturally fight hyperactivity and irritability as well as naturally relieve stress. Vitamin C, Magnesium, Omega-3, and B Vitamins can all have beneficial effects in this regard.
Valerian root has also widely been used over many years to treat sleeping disorders. As a mild, natural muscle relaxer, it can easily be bought over the counter and can help calm anxiety and soothe hypertension.
Seeking Expert Advice
As with any illness or disorder, seeking medical advice should be your first direct action. If you are worried about Bruxism, stress or an anxiety-based problem, guidance from a trained professional can help you plot a course back to full health.