Bruxism – Is it a Disease or an Uncontrolled Behavior

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Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. It can be considered both as a disease and as an uncontrolled behavior. Bruxism is defined as the act of consciously or unconsciously clenching one’s teeth during the day or while sleeping.

People suffering from bruxism are rarely aware of their condition, especially if they tend to grind their teeth at night. Oftentimes, it is their roommates or their sleeping partners that are affected by their condition the most. Teeth clenching during the night may disrupt the patient’s and another person’s sleep, much to their discomfort.

With that said, bruxism is officially classified as a medical and a dental problem. Doctors believe that teeth grinding may be caused by stress suffered during the day carried out throughout the night. It may also be due to the following psychological concerns: frustration, anger, and an aggressive personality. Physically, bruxism may be caused by the abnormal alignment and development of teeth and jaws. Or it can be caused by other diseases and may show up as a side effect of certain drugs and medications.

To treat bruxism, it is important for patients consult both a doctor and a dentist. The dentist is normally the first stop. The dentist would check the extent of the patient’s teeth grinding activities and would evaluate if it were caused by the defects in the structure of the jaws and teeth. If it were, then the dentist would proceed with the proper course of treatment right then and there. Otherwise, the patient would be referred to a medical professional or a psychologist to address the problem.

The cure for bruxism caused by physical defects on the teeth and jaws is surgery. For some patients, the use of night guards is sufficient. Bruxism may give way to total denture damage if not treated right away. And that could mean thousands of dollars in reconstructive dental restoration.

Bruxism caused by stress and other psychological problems are best addressed with behavior correction therapies. Here, the patient is subjected to a series of counseling in order to condition their minds away from the roots of the problem.

If bruxism is caused by medical concerns like an underlying disease, or if it developed as a side effect, a medical practitioner will be tasked to find the cure. A different set of medications with minimal or no side effects may be given to the patient, if it were diagnosed that the bruxism is the side effect of certain drugs. Oral medications that relax the jaws and facial muscles may be prescribed as well.

More than anything else, bruxism is a health concern. It is not advisable for patients to simply ignore it or live with it. Bruxism has to be addressed right on its onset. This is to make sure that complications like severe head pains are prevented.

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