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Bruxism can be defined as the grinding of teeth for non-functional purposes. Some authors refer to nocturnal grinding as bruxism while the term bruxomania is given for grinding during the day time.

Etiology:

  1. Psychological and emotional stresses.
  2. Occlusal interference or discrepancy between centric relation and centric occlusion can predispose to grinding.
  3. Pericoronitis, and periodontal pain is said to trigger bruxism in some individuals.
Clinical features:
  1. Occlusal wear facets on the teeth.
  2. Fractures of teeth and restorations.
  3. Mobility of teeth
  4. Tenderness and hypertrophy of masticatory muscles.
  5. Muscle pain when the patient wakes up in the morning.
  6. Temporomandibular joint pain and discomfort can occur.

Diagnosis:
History and clinical examination in most cases is sufficient to diagnose bruxism. Occlusal prematurities can be diagnosed by use of articulating papers. Electromyographic examination can be carried out to check for hyperactivity of the muscles of mastication.

Treatment:
Many cases of bruxism are associated with emotional and psychological disturbances. Thus appropriate psychological counseling by a psychiatrist may be initiated. Hypnosis, relaxing exercise and massage can help in relieving muscle tension. Occlusal adjustments have to carried out to eliminate prematurities. Night guards or other occlusal splints that cover the occlusal surfaces of teeth help in eliminating occlusal interference, prevent occlusal wear and break the neuromuscular adaptation.

Self-care steps:

  • Relax your facial and jaw muscles throughout the day. The goal is to make facial relaxation a habit.
  • Massage the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and face.
Learn physical therapy stretching exercises to help the restore a normal balance to the action of the muscles and joint on each side of the head.
  • Apply ice or wet heat to sore jaw muscles
  • Avoid eating hard foods like nuts, candies, steak.
  • Drink plenty of water every day.
  • Try to reduce your daily stress and learn relaxation techniques.
  • Get plenty of sleep.

Complications:
If clenching leads to jaw pain, this in turn can lead to insomnia, depression, and eating disorders. Clenching and grinding can worsen existing dental or TMJ problems. Nightly grinding can awaken roommates and sleeping partners.


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