While bruxism cannot be cured it is a condition that can be managed as it is behavior related, and it’s important to take action to break this cycle of behavior because of the damage it can do to teeth and the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that hinges the jaw. Teeth grinding or clenching is a condition which is frequently stress related, and develops as a sub conscious habit. Treatment for bruxism has to alter this habit and replace it with a non-destructive habit. Some bruxism sufferers will manage to break this habit by using a mouth guard, while others will need to use a mouth guard in conjunction with other treatments. Treatments for bruxism include:
- Mouth guard– one of the most effective and immediate ways to help eliminate the symptoms of bruxism. It works by interrupting the neural sensory pattern that occurs when someone bites down or grinds their teeth. Mouth guards can take some getting used to, and it may take a while to find a comfortable mouth guard that works.
- Biofeedback– this works by training bruxers to relax their muscles giving them control over what are normally involuntary reactions, and it can be used while awake or asleep. It uses a system of negative reinforcement, in that subjects are connected to a machine that detects muscle tension and delivers an alarm or shock to the patient, breaking the pattern of behavior. Alternative methods involve fully waking bruxers, and getting them to visit the bathroom or freshen up their bed before allowing them to go back to sleep. These actions not only break the pattern of behavior but may also ensure a more comfortable night’s sleep. Discomfort during sleeping is thought to contribute towards bruxism.
- Relaxation exercises– these could include breathing exercises, guided meditations or yoga which enables the user to become fully relaxed before going to bed. Reducing stress levels is an important part of dealing with bruxism in the long term, and even if using a mouth guard helps to break this habit it could be useful look at reducing stress as a way of maintaining overall good health.
- Improving nutrition and diet– some studies have shown a link between nutritional deficiencies and bruxism, and in particular with magnesium deficiencies. Taking a good daily supplement may help, as could cutting down on any foods that may cause allergic reactions. People who drink a lot of caffeine or who smoke might find that refraining from caffeine and nicotine, at least for a few hours before bed time might help improve sleep quality and reduce bruxism.
- Changing medications– some medications can exacerbate the effects of bruxism, including certain anti-depression medications and some attention deficit medications. If you think your medication is affecting your bruxism then talk to your physician, but you should never stop taking prescribed medication without first discussing it with a health professional.
Misaligned teeth– teeth that do not meet together correctly can cause bruxism, and this may be due to growth patterns or because teeth have changed position slightly. Your dentist will be able to recommend a course or treatment to remedy this problem.