TEETH GRINDING AND CLENCHING

TEETH GRINDING AND CLENCHING, also known as bruxism, is a frustrating and often painful condition that occurs in people most commonly at night time during sleep. Bruxing can irreparably damage teeth, wearing them down, loosening them and chipping them at the gum line and even causing damage to the jaw bone and jaw joints. It can also cause ear ache, jaw pain, headaches and disturb sleep both for the sufferer and their sleep partner. It is estimated that about 40% of the population will need a night guard at some stage during their lives to combat the effects of bruxism. Stress is believed to be a key factor in teeth grinding and clenching and stress management techniques are commonly recommended to sufferers as part of their bruxism management program. Night guards are designed to complement management programs by protecting teeth, while also helping to alleviate pain and sleep disturbance. Teeth grinding and jaw clenching may also be associated with more complex conditions such as TMJ (temporomandibular) disorders and Fibromyalgia. Sufferers experiencing the raw, gnawing pain brought on by these disorders are understandably eager to find treatments that help to alleviate their pain.

FIBROMYALGIA

Fibromyalgia (FM) is a medical condition characterised by chronic widespread pain and a heightened and painful response to pressure. Symptoms other than pain may occur, leading to the use of the termfibromyalgia syndrome (FMS). Other symptoms include feeling tired to a degree that normal activities are affected, sleep disturbance, and joint stiffness. Some people also report difficulty with swallowing, bowel andbladder abnormalities, numbness and tingling, and cognitive dysfunction. Fibromyalgia is frequently associated with psychiatric conditions such as depression and anxiety, and with stress-related disorders such asposttraumatic stress disorder. Not all people with fibromyalgia experience all associated symptoms.

BRUXISM

Bruxism, also known as tooth grinding, is the excessive grinding of the teeth and/or excessive clenching of the jaw. It is an oral parafunctional activity; i.e., it is unrelated to normal function such as eating or talking. Bruxism is a common problem; reports of prevalence range from 8–31% in the general population. Bruxism may cause minimal symptoms, and therefore people may not be aware of the condition. Several symptoms are commonly associated with bruxism, including hypersensitive teeth, aching jaw muscles, and headaches. Bruxism may cause tooth wear, and even damage or break teeth and dental restorations such as crowns and fillings.

There are two main types of bruxism: that which occurs during sleep (sleep bruxism) and that which occurs during wakefulness (awake bruxism). Dental damage may be similar in both types, but the symptoms of sleep bruxism tend to be worst on waking and improve during the course of the day, and the symptoms of awake bruxism may not be present at all on waking, and then worsen over the day. The causes of bruxism are not completely understood, but probably involve multiple factors. Awake bruxism is thought to have different causes than sleep bruxism, and is more common in females, whereas males and females are affected in equal proportions by sleep bruxism.

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