Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, gnash or clench your teeth. Some people unconsciously clench their teeth together during the day or grind them at night, known as sleep bruxism.
Bruxism may be mild, or it can be frequentm and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, earaches, and damage to the teeth and tongue. If you have sleep bruxism, you may be unaware of it until symptoms develop.
Causes of bruxism include:
Anxiety, stress or tension, including suppressed anger or frustration
Having an aggressive or competitive personality type
An abnormal alignment of the upper and lower teeth.
A side effect of psyciatric medications or antidepressants.
A complication can develop in the temporomandibular joints (TMKs) in front of your ears. You feel it when opening and closing your mouth. There are other causes of jaw or ear pain, including ear infection.
Medications are not very effective for bruxism, except for a muscle relaxant that can be taken before bed for sleep bruxism. Stress management seems to work better. Mouth guards also help, and are available at pharmacies or custom made by your dentist.
Behavioral therapy includes practicing proper mouth and jaw position. Rest your tongue upward with your teeth apart and your lips closed. This should keep your teeth from grinding and your jaws from clenching.