The Disease of Our Time: Bruxism

Where are those old days, it is said, our elders. Don’t you think they are right? Financial distress, job stress, the effort to rise, the instinct to always want the best and the more beautiful, the economic crisis, the corona etc. Don’t you think it’s too much? Do you think that social media is social but asocial lives have not occurred in real life? People can’t get together and socialize due to the pandemic, and the problems grow as the worries grow. Unfortunately, stress and psychological problems have skyrocketed in the last year. And the associated problems are increasing.

Bruxism (Teeth grinding) is one of them. So what is this bruxism we hear all the time? During the day or while sleeping, we unknowingly grind our teeth. Our chewing muscles and jaw joint are overworked. There may be cramp-like pain and fatigue in the chewing muscles, fatigue in the neck muscles, and voice in the jaw joint or restriction in mouth opening. If we grind our teeth during sleep, when we wake up in the morning, fatigue in the jaw, headache, limitation in mouth opening can be seen. Sleep bruxism (teeth grinding) is normally considered a sleep-related movement disorder. It has been observed that individuals who clenched or gnashed their teeth during sleep were more likely to have other sleep disorders such as snoring and pauses in breathing, namely sleep apnea.

Mild cases of bruxism may not require any treatment. However, in some individuals, bruxism can be so frequent and severe that it causes jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth, and other problems.

REASONS

According to experts, it is not known exactly what causes bruxism (Teeth grinding). However, it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic, physical and psychological factors. In many cases, waking bruxism (teeth grinding) can be caused by emotions such as anxiety, stress, anger, frustration or tension. In addition, it may have developed as a coping strategy or a habit in a process where the individual enters deep concentration.

Sleep bruxism (teeth grinding) may occur as a result of chewing activity related to arousal during sleep or sleep-related. Age is another influencing factor for bruxism (teeth grinding). Bruxism (teeth grinding) is more common in young children, but usually goes away in adulthood.

It has been observed that the risk of bruxism (teeth grinding) is high in individuals with an aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type.

Bruxism (teeth grinding) can be a rare side effect of psychiatric medications such as some antidepressants. Similarly, smoking, drinking caffeinated beverages, consuming alcohol, or using recreational drugs can increase the risk of bruxism (teeth grinding).

Sleep bruxism (teeth grinding) tends to run especially in families. Individuals with bruxism (teeth grinding) are very likely to have a family history of bruxism.

WHAT ARE THE NEGATIVE CONDITIONS THAT CAN OCCUR WITH BRUKCISM?

Clenching primarily damages the teeth and joint. It can cause abrasions on the top layer of the teeth, which we call enamel, and more sensitive teeth due to these abrasions. Fractures of teeth, fillings or veneers can be seen in patients with severe bruxism.

It causes excessive growth (hypertrophy) in the chewing muscles and the corresponding angular (muscular) face appearance. It also causes spasms and pain in the chewing muscles. It even reaches such a stage that it can feel like a toothache.

Long-term clenching causes damage to the jaw joint. Increased pressure in the joint can cause pain in the front of the ear, tinnitus and headache. Slipping of the disc structure in the joint may cause a sound from the joint when opening and closing the mouth.

In many cases, it is accompanied by migraine headaches. Or it can trigger migraines. It can be seen together with fibromyalgia.

METHODS OF TREATMENT

In many cases, especially in young children, bruxism (clenching) will heal on its own without any treatment, and adults usually do not clenched or grind their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, in some rare and more severe cases, the underlying cause of bruxism may need to be treated to prevent bruxism.

For individuals whose bruxism (clenching) appears to be associated with larger sleep problems, the doctor may recommend a sleep medicine specialist. The sleep medicine professional may order a test, such as a sleep study, to evaluate the individual’s teeth grinding events and determine whether the individual has sleep apnea or other sleep disorders.

If clenching appears to be related to anxiety or other similar psychological issues, the physician may refer the individual to a licensed therapist or counselor. Stress or anxiety management can help an individual relieve bruxism (clenching). Individuals who clenched their teeth due to stress can avoid the problem by learning strategies that promote relaxation, such as meditation.

If this situation continues during the day, botox injection to reduce the strength of the chewing muscles and relax the muscles provides a serious relief for the patients. Repeating it between 6 months and 1 year will increase the relief time and increase the success of the treatment. After the Botox injection, the chewing muscles relax and the destructive force on the teeth and joints decreases. Accordingly, in the long term, the pressure in the jaw joint is reduced and intra-articular destruction is reduced.

In more advanced cases where there is a restriction in the mouth opening or we get a clicking sound, we fix the joint and teeth to a comfortable position with a hard plate called Mr splint in order to reduce the contact of the lower and upper teeth and reduce the intra-articular pressure. And we want the patient to wear it for 10 to 15 hours in the first stage. Thus, the joint space expands, the intra-articular pressure decreases, the enzymes that cause pain and destruction decrease, the anteriorly positioned joint disc returns to the position it should be.

So what should be the duration of treatment? Clenching and the problems it causes occur with the accumulation of years. Therefore, it may take 6 months or years for the symptoms to go away. This is proportional to the compliance of our patient and the severity of the problem.

So what should we do to reduce bruxism (teeth grinding)?

If you have a teeth grinding problem, let’s stay away from foods that are very hard and require a lot of chewing. Let’s prefer more liquid and soft foods. For example, chewing gum can cause the chewing muscles to work harder and increase bruxism.

Let’s take the food in small pieces and try to chew it with both the right and left sides. Chewing on one side hurts the joint and muscles.

Let’s not open our mouth too much while yawning or eating. Opening the mouth more than necessary can cause joint dislocations.

Less stress, more hobbies, more time for ourselves, our loved ones and the work we love. Psychologically, the things that relax us cause our body to relax, our heart rate to drop and we relax. The chewing muscles also contract less and we have less pain.

Don’t forget this promise this month We need a little silence, a little peace, a lot of peace…

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