Bruxism



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What Is Bruxism

Bruxism, also known as Teeth Grinding, is a condition that causes you to unconsciously grind or clench your teeth.  Without even realizing it, you may clench or grind your sleep during the day or at night during your sleep.  Roughly 25 million Americans unconsciously grind their teeth or clench their jaws, and these activities can lead to weakened/cracked teeth, receding gums, or damaged jaw joints.  Mild or occasional Bruxism may not require treatment or intervention, but be on the lookout for symptoms to monitor the progression of this condition.

Signs Of Bruxism

It is sometimes difficult to identify whether or not you grind your teeth, especially if you do it in your sleep, but the telltale symptoms are constant headache and sore jaw.  You notice that your teeth are worn down or you are experiencing frequent jaw pain, contact your dentist so he/she can determine whether or not you are grinding.  Common symptoms of Bruxism include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching
  • Flattened teeth (or teeth that are chipped, fractured, or loose)
  • Jaw, neck, or face pain
  • Worn tooth enamel (that exposed deeper layers of teeth)
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of the cheek
  • Sleep disruption 
  • Headache that starts in the temples
What Causes Bruxism

While the exact cause of Bruxism isn't entirely understood, oral health specialists have determined that stress plays a large role in the development.  Along with stress, people with anger, nervous tension, pain, or frustration are commonly affected.  Bruxism may also be attributed to a combination of psychological, physical, and genetic factors.  Other causes are listed below:

  • High stress levels
  • People who take antidepressants (including fluoxetine and paroxetine)
  • An imbalance of brain neurotransmitters
  • Family history of Bruxism
  • Aggressive or hyperactive personality
  • Anxiety
  • Upper airway infections

Dherbs Approach...adjusting your diet is always key!

Natural Remedies
  • Since stress is believed to be one of the primary causes of Bruxism, it is best to learn to manage stress levels in attempt to stop grinding your teeth.  Both children and adults alike can benefit from stress reducing practices like yoga, aromatherapy, meditation, Tai Chi, qi gong, acupuncture, and exercise.  Talking to a therapist, counselor, or trusted friend about any anxieties or stressors in your life can help alleviate stress.
  • Dentists often recommend that people with headaches or facial pain should wear a night guard.  This is because the night guard prevents teeth from grinding. A custom mouth guard is your best bet because it is molded to your teeth; therefore, it fits like a glove.  There are generic night guards at the store, but they may not be comfortable.
  • Since jaw and facial pain are common symptoms of Bruxism, it is beneficial to do jaw muscle exercises that help to relax facial muscles and maintain jaw alignment.  You can easily do these from the comfort of your own home.  Open your mouth wide and keep your tongue touching your front teeth to relax the jaw.  You can also say the letter "N" out loud, while you have your mouth open, to keep the top and bottom teeth from touching. 
  • People with high stress levels or anxiety are typically deficient in magnesium, so adding more magnesium-rich foods to your diet can help reduce irritability, restlessness, and hyperactivity.  Foods that are rich in magnesium include pumpkin seeds, chard, spinach, almonds, black beans, avocados, figs, bananas, and Brazil nuts.  If you choose to take a plant-based magnesium supplement, adults can safely take 400 milligrams per day.  It is best taken before bed to help improve sleep. 
  • People with anxiety-induced teeth grinding can benefit from consuming valerian root, which acts as a natural sedative and has anti-anxiety properties.  One study found that 800 milligrams of valerian root per day helped reduce symptoms of restless leg syndrome.  Since Bruxism is also a movement disorder, similar to restless leg syndrome, valerian root may be reduce symptoms. 
  • Heat works to naturally relax and soothe muscles.  People who grind their teeth may benefit from applying a warm compress to their jaw or face muscles.  Simply soak a towel in hot water, wring it out, and apply it on the jaw.  You can do this during the day or at night. 
  • Biofeedback is a technique that helps make people aware of and ultimately stop certain behaviors.  During a biofeedback session, a therapist will instruct you on how to control your jaw muscle movements via visual, auditory, and vibratory feedback that is generated by electromyography.  More research needs to be done on this to determine the effectiveness of people with Bruxism. 
  • Some people find that hypnotherapy can help address the root of the problem.  Since teeth grinding is typically done unconsciously, hypnotherapy is thought to penetrate the conscious mind to help you stop grinding. 
Things you should eat
  • Pumpkin Seeds
  • Brazil Nuts
  • Chamomile
  • Raw Honey
  • Leafy Greens (spinach, chard, kale, & collards)
  • Bananas
  • Avocados
  • Figs
  • Black Beans
  • Guava
  • Papaya
  • Black Currants
  • Red Bell Peppers
  • Kiwis
  • Oranges
  • Berries (strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, & raspberries)
Vitamin C