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Awake bruxism, also called daytime bruxism, is a condition where you grind, gnash, or clench your teeth while awake.
This may be unconsciously or consciously. Sleep bruxism is also common, but this condition is when you clench or grind your teeth during sleep.
Bruxism affects at least 20 percent of the population. However, most people grind or clench their teeth at times. Bruxism occurs in adults and children, but it is most common in 25 to 44-year-olds.
Signs and symptoms of awake bruxism can include:
Sleep bruxism is a sleep disorder. Those who grind, gnash, or clench their teeth during sleep are more likely to experience other sleep disorders. This includes snoring and pauses in breathing (sleep apnea).
The symptoms of nocturnal bruxism are similar to those of daytime bruxism.
You may not notice if you grind or chew during the night. However, if you sleep with a partner, they may be able to notice or hear your teeth grinding. Since you may be unaware of your sleep bruxism, it’s essential to know the disorder's signs and symptoms to prevent any complications from developing.
Doctors still don’t completely understand what causes awake bruxism. However, it may be due to a combination of genetic, physical, psychological, and psychosocial factors.
Daytime bruxism may be due to the following reasons:
There are techniques you can use to help stop or reduce daytime teeth grinding and clenching. Since stress is one of the leading causes of daytime bruxism, reducing stress levels is one of the most effective ways to prevent it.
Some ways to stop awake bruxism include:
Mild awake bruxism episodes may not require treatment. In most cases, bruxism doesn’t lead to severe complications. However, bruxism can be severe. If frequent, bruxism can lead to various risk factors and medical conditions, especially if left untreated.
The risk factors and side effects of awake bruxism can include:
Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) in your joints may sound like clicking noises when you open and close your mouth. The TMJs, or jaw joints, are located just in front of your ears.
Many people don’t realize they have awake bruxism until side effects and symptoms appear. The risks of problems from teeth grinding may increase if you leave bruxing untreated for a significant period.
If you experience any of the symptoms or side effects of bruxism episodes, or have any other concerns regarding your teeth or jaw, meet with your dentist, doctor, or orthodontist.
If you notice that your child is clenching or grinding their teeth, or is displaying any other symptoms of bruxism, mention it at their next dental appointment.
If you experience tooth grinding, there are ways you can stop it. Some remedies may be more effective than others, depending on the underlying cause of your awake bruxism and symptoms. Your doctor, dentist, or orthodontist can help you choose the best solution for your awake bruxism.
A mouthguard may be helpful for “bruxers.” Occlusal splints work by cushioning your teeth and preventing them from grinding against each other. However, a mouthguard is most useful for those experiencing sleep bruxism as they can be worn during the night.
Occlusal splints can be custom-made by your dentist or orthodontist. Or, you can buy a generic one over the counter.
If you experience chronic sleep bruxing, custom-made mouthguards can help protect your teeth from tooth wear and damage. A mouthguard may also reduce any strain or jaw pain.
Custom-made mouthguards cost more than over the counter options. However, they may be a better choice for some patients.
Personalized mouthguards come in varying levels of thickness. They fit precisely to your jaw’s exact size and shape. Custom-made mouthguards are usually more comfortable than shop-bought options because they are made of hard acrylic material. Over-the-counter mouthguards are often created from plastic. Plastic mouthguards may not be as comfortable as custom-made options.
If you decide to choose an over-the-counter mouthguard, select one made of soft plastic or an option that can be boiled to soften it.
Over-the-counter mouthguards may not be as useful for severe bruxism as personalized options. Some people even find that a soft night guard actually increases their muscle clenching or grinding due to the soft, squishy material. However, they are an affordable and viable treatment for bruxers experiencing minor teeth grinding.
Injections of botulinum toxin (botox) may reduce the pain and frequency of tooth grinding in otherwise healthy people. However, more research is required to confirm the safety and effectiveness of using botulinum toxin (botox) as a treatment for awake bruxing.
During the treatment of botulinum toxin (botox) for bruxism, a medical professional injects small amounts of the neurotoxic protein into the masseter muscle. This is a large muscle that controls muscle activity.
Botox won’t cure bruxism. It works as a temporary muscle relaxant. This helps reduce teeth grinding and related side effects and symptoms. Benefits usually last for three to six months. As such, treatment is usually repeated.
If you’re interested in using botulinum toxin (botox) to treat bruxism, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor.
Biofeedback helps people become aware of and eliminate a behavior. The treatment helps to reduce both awake and sleep bruxing.
During biofeedback treatment, a specialist therapist teaches bruxers how to control jaw muscle activity and movements. This training includes visual, vibratory, or auditory feedback from electromyography.
Electromyography is an electrodiagnostic medicine technique. The procedure determines and records the electrical activity generated by skeletal muscles.
However, more research is required to understand the long-term advantages and effectiveness of biofeedback treatment.