What is Sleep Bruxism?
Sleep bruxism refers to involuntary and repetitive jaw muscle contractions resulting in teeth grinding and jaw clenching while an individual is asleep. This is different from the teeth clenching that occurs while someone is awake. Often this condition goes undiagnosed for years as the individual is unaware they are clenching their jaws in their sleep.
Many people complain of waking up with sore jaw muscles, neck pain, or a headache and cannot explain why. A lot of the time, it’s their sleep partners who make them aware of the condition. When someone is asleep, they are not aware of their bite force, and thus their teeth grinding and jaw clenching tend to be more forceful than that of someone awake. As a result, their sleep partner may complain of sleep disruptions due to the noise from the teeth grinding.
Sleep bruxism that goes untreated for a long time can result in several serious complications. These include significant wearing down of teeth resulting in sensitivity and pain. Teeth grinding can also increase the risk of complications with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)(the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.)
What Causes Sleep Bruxism?
There isn’t one single cause for why people grind their teeth during their sleep. That said, several factors have been associated with a greater risk of sleep bruxism. Stress and anxiety are high on that list of factors that cause jaw clenching at night. Many people clench their teeth in response to stressful situations, and sometimes, this may carry over to their sleep.
Medical researchers have also linked sleep bruxism to genetics, which means most people with sleep bruxism will have a close family member with the same condition. These are only a few of the factors that have been attributed to jaw clenching at night. Others include diet, age, and sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea.
What Are the Treatments for Sleep Bruxism?
Teeth grinding during sleep does not necessarily have to lead to any adverse side effects. The extent of the impact of sleep bruxism depends mainly on the severity of the grinding, the alignment of a person’s teeth, diet, and other medical conditions that harm the teeth.
However, some people have had their lives affected negatively by sleep bruxism. From worn-out teeth, joint pains to sleep disruption, they need a solution for their sleep bruxism. If this is you, there are several avenues of treatment you can approach.
Multiple studies have linked sleep bruxism to high levels of stress. While it’s impossible to eliminate your exposure to stressful situations completely, there are steps you can take to combat negative responses. There are many stress-reduction techniques. From talking to a therapist, or trusted friend, exercise to meditation, you are bound to find something that will help you relax and alleviate anxiety. Also, stress reduction can benefit your overall health.
Research has shown that injecting botulinum toxin into the masseter muscles can significantly reduce the frequency of sleep bruxism. Botox is a safe, effective treatment for patients who grind their teeth or clench their jaws in their sleep. It also has the added aesthetic benefit of jaw slimming for people with wide square-shaped jawlines. This is the treatment for sleep bruxism we offer here at Dr. Aesthetica. If you want to know how Botox injections can help alleviate your sleep bruxism, feel free to reach out to us today!
There are medications that help some people reduce sleep bruxism by altering the brain chemicals that stimulate jaw contractions. However, many of such medications have long-term side effects that may make them inappropriate for some patients.
Nocturnal bite plate/splint
This is a special mouth guard-type of dental appliance that can help prevent teeth damage. When you clench your jaw, the nocturnal bite splint helps to reduce the tension and give cushion to the jaw muscles. These types of mouthpieces are custom designed and are usually made in a dental office or a professional laboratory. Your dentist will make an impression of your teeth, and a mouth guard is then molded over the model. The extra attention and special material make these mouth guards quite expensive, and wearing them will take some getting used to.
Sleep bruxism affects many more people than the current statistics show. Among the treatment options mentioned in today’s article, stress reduction and Botox injections are, by far, the best options for most people.