bruxism

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Bruxism

 

Definition

Bruxism is the habit of clenching and grinding the teeth. It most often occurs at night during sleep, but it may also occur during the day. It is an unconscious behavior, perhaps performed to release anxiety, aggression, or anger.

Description

Bruxism is one of the oldest disorders known, and approximately one in four adults experiences it. Most people are not aware of it before their teeth have been damaged.

Causes and symptoms

While bruxism is typically associated with stress, it may also be triggered by abnormal occlusion (the way the upper and lower teeth fit together), or crooked or missing teeth.
Symptoms of bruxism include: dull headaches; sore and tired facial muscles; earaches; sensitive teeth; and locking, popping, and clicking of the jaw.
During a dental examination, a dentist may recognize damage resulting from bruxism, including: enamel loss from the chewing surfaces of teeth; flattened tooth surfaces; loosened teeth; and fractured teeth and fillings. Left untreated, bruxism may lead to tooth loss and jaw dysfunction.

Diagnosis

Medical and dental histories and examinations are necessary to differentiate bruxism from other conditions that may cause similar pain, such as ear infections, dental infections, and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction. However, uncommonly worn-down teeth strongly suggest a diagnosis of bruxism.

Treatment

To prevent further damage to the teeth, bruxism is treated by placing a removable, custom-fitted plastic appliance called a night guard between the upper and lower teeth. Although the clenching and grinding behavior may continue, the teeth wear away the plastic instead of each other.
In some cases, abnormal occlusion may be adjusted and high spots removed so that the teeth fit together in a more comfortable position. Missing teeth may be replaced and crooked teeth may be straightened with orthodontic treatment to eliminate possible underlying causes of bruxism. In cases where jaw muscles are very tight, a dentist may prescribe muscle relaxants.

Key terms

Enamel — The hard outermost surface of a tooth.
High spot — An area of a tooth or restoration that feels abnormal or uncomfortable because it hits its opposing tooth before other teeth meet.
Night guard — A removable, custom-fitted plastic appliance that fits between the upper and lower teeth to prevent them from grinding against each other.
Occlusion — The way upper and lower teeth fit together during biting and chewing.
Rolfing — Based on the belief that proper alignment of various parts of the body is necessary for physical and mental health, rolfing uses deep tissue massage and movement exercises in an attempt to bring the body into correct alignment.
Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) — The jaw joint formed by the mandible (lower jaw bone) moving against the temporal bone of the skull.

Alternative treatment

Stress management and behavior modification techniques may be useful to break the habit of clenching and teeth grinding. Tight jaw muscles may be relaxed by applying warm compresses to the sides of the face. Herbal muscle relaxants also can be helpful. Massage therapy and deep tissue realignment, including rolfing, can assist in releasing the clenching pattern. This is a more permanent alternative treatment for bruxism.

Prognosis

Bruxism may cause permanent damage to teeth and chronic jaw pain unless properly diagnosed and promptly treated. The behavior may be eliminated if its underlying causes are found and addressed.

Prevention

Increased awareness in patients prone to anxiety, aggression, or anger may prevent the habit of bruxism from developing.

Resources

Organizations

Academy of General Dentistry. Suite 1200, 211 East Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.(312) 440-4300. http://www.agd.org.
American Dental Association. 211 E. Chicago Ave., Chicago, IL 60611. (312) 440-2500. http://www.ada.org.

bruxism

 [bruk´sizm]
gnashing, grinding, or clenching the teeth, usually during sleep. Repeated and continuous grinding of the teeth over a long period of time can wear down and loosen teeth and cause bone loss secondary to periodontal disease. Bruxism can also cause headache, muscle spasm, and chronic pain in the face and jaw.

Possible causes of bruxism include dental problems, such as malocclusion and high fillings, emotional problems associated with tension and anxiety, and intense concentration for a long period of time during which the person unknowingly tightens the jaw and grinds the teeth.

A dentist can prescribe and fit a night guard to protect the teeth during sleep. If stress is the underlying cause, methods to reduce tension and promote relaxation are sometimes helpful.

brux·ism

(brŭk'sizm),
A clenching of the teeth, associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep; sometimes a pathologic condition.
[G. bruchō, to grind the teeth]

bruxism

/brux·ism/ (bruk´sizm) grinding of the teeth, especially during sleep.

bruxism

(brŭk′sĭz′əm)
n.
The habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth, usually during sleep.

bruxism

[bruk′sizəm]
Etymology: Gk, brychein, to gnash the teeth
the compulsive, unconscious grinding or clenching of the teeth, especially during sleep or as a mechanism for releasing tension during periods of extreme stress in the waking hours. Also called bruxomania. See also attrition.

bruxism

Compulsive grinding or clenching of the teeth, which occurs unconsciously if the person is awake or during stage 2 sleep.

Aetiology
Secondary to anxiety, tension or dental problems.

bruxism

Psychiatry Compulsive grinding or clenching of teeth, which occurs unconsciously while awake or during stage 2 sleep. May be secondary to anxiety, tension, or dental problems

brux·ism

(brŭk'sizm)
A clenching of the teeth,associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep; sometimes a pathologic condition.
See also: parafunction
[G. bruchō, to grind the teeth]

bruxism

Habitual grinding or clenching of the teeth, often to the point of wearing away the enamel and eroding the crowns. The habit is often unconscious. Bruxism is also common during sleep.

brux·ism

(brŭk'sizm)
A clenching of the teeth, associated with forceful lateral or protrusive jaw movements, resulting in rubbing, gritting, or grinding together of the teeth, usually during sleep.
[G. bruchō, to grind the teeth]

bruxism (bruk´sizəm),

n the involuntary gnashing, grinding, or clenching of teeth. It is usually an unconscious activity, whether the individual is awake or asleep; often associated with fatigue, anxiety, emotional stress, or fear, and frequently triggered by occlusal irregularities, usually resulting in abnormal wear patterns on the teeth, periodontal breakdown, and joint or neuromuscular problems.
Enlarge picture
Bruxism.

bruxism

gnashing, grinding or clenching the teeth, common only in cattle. Repeated and continuous grinding of the teeth over a long period of time can wear down and loosen teeth and cause bone loss. It is a sign of subacute abdominal pain and encephalopathy, including hepatic encephalopathy.