Bruxism is the medical term used to describe teeth grinding, gnashing, or clenching that most frequently affects individuals at night. For people with fibromyalgia syndrome, bruxism represents one type of fibromyalgia symptom that is closely related to sleep disturbances. Bruxism symptoms range from mild to severe, and may require medical treatment to prevent further complications.
In general, the causes of bruxism are attributed to the following factors:
- suppressed emotions such as anger
- aggressive or competitive personality type
- hyperactive personality
While individuals with fibromyalgia may experience bruxism symptoms as a result of these common causes – which may indeed be a result of experiencing other fibromyalgia symptoms – bruxism in individuals with fibromyalgia is more frequently associated with a related condition known as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD).
Bruxism Symptoms and Fibromyalgia
Approximately 75% of people with fibromyalgia are also affected by TMJD, which causes muscle pain in the face, neck, shoulders and back, and often leads to jaw clenching and teeth grinding.
Nocturnal bruxism refers to teeth grinding that takes place at night, while an individual is asleep. Sufferers will begin to clench the muscles in the face, which leads to teeth grinding. Individuals may not be aware of this behavior but wake up with pain in the jaw area. The following are some commonly experienced bruxism symptoms:
- teeth grinding or clenching that wakes up your partner during sleep
- worn down, flattened or chipped teeth
- increased tooth sensitivity or other dental problems
- jaw pain or tightness
- ear ache due to jaw contractions
- chronic facial pain
- chewed tissue inside the mouth
There are many at-home bruxism remedies as well as medical treatment options available to stop teeth grinding. Some of the medical interventions used for bruxism treatment include the following:
- stress management with professional counseling to promote relaxation such as meditation or exercise
- mouth guards to prevent teeth grinding
- dental reconstructive treatment to align the teeth or repair damage
- behavior therapy to realign mouth and jaw muscles
- muscle relaxants to be taken before bed
- Botulinum toxin (botox) injections
Some of the home remedies available to help stop teeth grinding include the following:
- eating an apple, carrot or cauliflower before going to bed to cal and overactive mouth
- applying a warm washcloth around the sides of the face to relax clenched muscles before bedtime. This can help prevent headaches
- practicing stress relief measures such as taking warm baths or massaging tense muscles in the neck, shoulders and face
- sleeping on your back
- using contoured pillows under your face while keeping a regular pillow between your arms. This will minimize strain on your jaw and neck
- avoiding the consumption of alcohol and minimizing your intake of caffeine, sugary candy and pastries
Speak to your doctor for information and recommended treatment for your case if you are affected by bruxism.