Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism, more commonly known as tooth grinding, is the clenching together of the bottom and upper jaw accompanied by the grinding of the lower set of teeth with the upper set.

Bruxism is a common subconscious habit that affects approximately 10 – 50 % of the population and can affect people of all ages. It occurs more frequently in children, and many people will outgrow it by adulthood but not all people do – especially if you add the emotional causes that can bring on bruxism. Bruxism is a subconscious behavior and many people don’t even realize that they are doing it.

Although it can occur during the waking hours, bruxism most frequently occurs while we sleep. During sleep the biting force (the force at which the jaws clench together) can be up to six times greater than during waking hours. Consequently, significant damage is likely to occur.

Bruxism is frequently related to stress or other emotional symptoms.

Signs & Symptoms of Bruxism

The muscles used to chew food are the same ones responsible for bruxism. If you’ve been grinding your teeth in your sleep, you may experience these physical symptoms:

  • Bruxism can lead to pain and cause damage to teeth, gums and other parts of the mouth
  • Jaw and cheek muscles often feel sore or tender in the morning.
  • Tightness of the jaw.
  • Headaches, ear-aches or neck pain.
  • As the enamel of the tooth is worn away by bruxism, the underlying dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. This causes the tooth to become sensitive to cold, pressure and other stimuli.
  • The high pressure created from bruxism can fracture teeth and crack fillings.
  • Bruxism can cause damage to the temporomandibular (TMJ) joint. This is the “hinge” which connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw allowing use to chew and talk.

You are at risk of bruxism if you experience the following:

  • Stress
  • Anger management issues
  • Anxiety
  • Certain mental health disorders such as: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Certain medical disorders such as: Parkinson’s disease, dementia gastroesophageal reflux disorder (GERD), epilepsy sleep-related disorders such as sleep apnea

When is it time to get help?

If you suspect that you suffer from bruxism first see your dentist.

If you find are experiencing teeth grinding (or excessive jaw clenching) then the cause may likely be due to stress  which is thought to play an important role in causing this condition, along with feelings of anxiety, anger and pain. Putting an end to bruxism will be helpful to your teeth, jaws, joints and muscles. Treating the emotional cause will be helpful to your mental health and overall well-being.

Treatment Methods for Bruxism

Working with a therapist can significantly decrease levels of teeth grinding due to factors related to stress, anxiety, anger management, ADHD, and other causes.

  • Hypnosis/Hypnotherapy can allow you to travel deeper into the unconscious or subconscious to look at and work with issues and ideas perhaps inaccessible otherwise. For most people, being in hypnosis does not seem much different to how they feel at other times during wakeful relaxation. It is like guided daydreaming: a form of relaxed concentration. Hypnosis is very safe. You are always in control and you will not do anything that you would normally not do. Hypnosis was approved by the American Medical Association in 1958 as an effective therapy for behaviour change.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) is an evidence based approach to treatment that focuses on how your thoughts, emotions and beliefs influence your behaviour and how you perceive yourself, others and the world. CBT has been shown to be effective in dealing with anxiety because it helps you to change those negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and projections on a subject matter or circumstance and help you to learn more effective ways of dealing with your anxiety. This approach uses sound techniques to slow down, halt and eliminate your own learned reactions. Ultimately, CBT deals with those circumstances and events that you’re aware of, rather than dealing with circumstances and events relating to your unconscious. Through a sound therapeutic process, you’ll learn to respond differently to issues and circumstances, and you’ll learn healthy coping mechanisms.
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) is a form of psychotherapy that was originally developed to alleviate suffering of veterans who were experiencing PTSD. To date, this remarkable therapy has relieved complex symptoms in more than one million sufferers worldwide! EMDR therapy works by having the therapist moves their hand back and forth (like a windshield wiper), while you watch the therapist’s finger (like watching ping pong) while recalling the event. Through the eye movements, the painful incident and feelings are replaced with calmness, feelings of peacefulness and empowerment. It works quickly and may significantly lessen many symptoms of anxiety.

What will I get out of treatment with Insight?

We can help you to relieve the stress that’s causing your bruxism and keep your teeth and jaws healthy in the process.

We can help you with this issue – contact us today!