Have you ever been told to “Bite the bullet”, “Grin and bear it”, “Keep a stiff upper lip” or “Hold on tight”
These are just a few, of the many cliche’s that people have used throughout the years that will send a signal to your brain to, “bite down”. You may already know that people process language in word pictures. So… when someone speaks to us and we are processing that information, we think of pictures that their words represent for us. Our subconscious mind may follow up on it, “literally”; maybe you have had to “bite back words”.
Bruxism comes from the Greek word “brychein” or gnashing of teeth. It involves any contact between the teeth that is forceful. Doing it while we are asleep is called Sleep Bruxism and can be very loud. Estimates of people who suffer from this condition vary greatly. It has been said the range is from 50% to 95%. Millions of people suffer from it. This is not only in the adult population; it is also common in our young children.
Now, look at your watch, clench your teeth or bite down hard and count off ten seconds. (don’t feel obligated to do this). Seems like that 10 seconds took forever didn’t it? Notice how your jaw feels? How did your teeth feel during the experience? Imagine if you were to do this while you slept every other night 4 to 6 HOURS! or even once a week.
We can put up to 600 lbs per square foot of pressure on our teeth. That is approximately the equivalent of a Lincoln Continental running over your bare, unprotected foot. One of my clients bruxed enough to break a titanium post! OUCH!
In our stressed out society Bruxism has become a real concern for our dentists. My dentist would like me to get a night guard just in case I Brux. A lot of people don’t know they grind their teeth unless someone who sleeps with the bruxer speaks up. The partner’s sleep may be interrupted by the bruxer and wake them up, or tell them the next morning. So, how would you know you brux if you don’t sleep with someone? Or if that someone doesn’t wake up when you are bruxing?
The most common clues are:
· Morning headaches
· Sore jaw
· Sore or loose teeth
Your dentist can tell whether or not you are bruxing by; how your teeth are wearing down, unusual bone density, flattened tooth surfaces, loosened and cracked teeth, or enamel loss. It can even be so severe that it can cause tooth loss, TMJ, (temporomandibular joint disease), or even hearing impairments.
What can be done about it?
The most common course of treatment is the night guard, usually prescribed by your dentist. The night guard will address the symptoms, not the cause of teeth grinding and clenching. This device works for people when it is used. Some people don’t use it after they get one. Common complaints may include discomfort. Perhaps a night guard is used for a while with good intention. Or it may be used sporadically. Whatever the case may be, the bottom line is; When it is used the success rate is good; at least the partner can get some sleep. Sadly, more often than not this approximately $300.00 to $750.00 device goes to waste.
There are a few more treatments that can be tried that are not as common. Including:
– Conscious effort by the client to avoid clenching
– Muscle relaxants
– Jaw muscle exercise
– Psychological counseling
– Diversion therapy
– Hypnosis / Hypnotherapy
Bruxism is the third most common sleep disorder, after snoring and talking while sleeping. It has been said that everyone bruxes, the question is, to what extent? Studies have shown that bruxist behavior may vary greatly from night to night and is correlated with the individual’s daily level of stress.