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Sleeping Disorders: The Concise Guide to Bruxism

July 09, 2018


Sleeping Disorders: A Guide to Bruxism

The Bed King team of bed supply specialists often provide advice on proper sleeping surfaces for individuals who deal with sleeping disorders. In previous articles we discussed insomnia, sleep apnea restless leg syndrome, and hypersomnia; today we discuss sleep bruxism - also known as nighttime teeth grinding.

What Is the Definition of Sleep Bruxism?

The term 'bruxism' is taken from the Greek word for teeth gnashing ('brychein'). Characterised as a movement disorder that occurs during sleep, this disorder may seem trifling, but can actually have a big impact on the wellness of the individuals who suffer from the affliction. When your body engages in unconscious movement such as teeth grinding while you sleep, you're not only wearing down your teeth and loosening enamel and fillings, you can also suffer from a wide array of secondary symptoms such as headaches and jaw pain.

You are also unlikely to get sufficient REM sleep, since the body needs to be fully relaxed to get to that state. Another big issue is that people who sleep alone often don't realise that they're grinding their teeth, and the condition can carry on unchecked for years.

The most common symptoms of sleep bruxism include:

  • Inexplicable facial aches and pains, such as tooth- and jaw pain, ear aches, etc.
  • Tender, swollen jaw
  • Teeth shape changes
  • Loosened, broken or chipped teeth or crowns

Sufferers who share a bed with with spouses or partners are normally first alerted to their condition by these individuals, who are likely to be wakened by the sound of the grinding at night.

The causes of sleep bruxism is still up for debate, but there are correlations with certain conditions and lifestyle habits. E.g. individuals who are prone to angst, suffer from sleep apnea, or regularly use nicotine, alcohol and excessive amounts of caffeine, are more prone to the condition.

What Kinds of Treatment are Available?

There are three broad areas of treatment available for sufferers from sleep bruxism:

  • Treating the primary sleeping or anxiety disorder that might lie at the root of the behaviour (e.g. sleep apnea, general anxiety disorder) with a combination of cognitive behavioural therapy and suitable medication.
  • Making changes in lifestyle to aid relaxation, e.g. following a set bedtime routine, taking a warm bath, avoiding screen time, taking up meditation, doing yoga and learning breathing exercises.
  • Dental devices and therapies to avoid teeth grinding, e.g. bite guards or bite plates fitted and tailored by a qualified dentist.

The information contained herein is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment in any manner. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition.


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