05 JUL 2017 General-



Bruxism can be nocturnal, but also diurnal, characterized by the semi-voluntary activity of the mandible, being related to repetitive habits, such as nail biting, pencils, chewing gum or grinding teeth.

Being an unconscious habit is usually diagnosed late. "Headaches are the most common symptom, given the strength that the individual does at night. Temporomandibular joint discomfort, pain in chewing muscles and face, cervical stiffness, limiting mouth opening movements and sleep are other symptoms, "explains Professor João Caramês.

He adds that "The consecutive grinding of teeth causes numerous problems, such as enamel wear, which affects the integrity of the teeth, causing pain and problems in the jaw and temporomandibular joint."

The causes of episodes of daytime bruxism are not consensual, but stress and anxiety are considered the main risk factors. These are also associated with nighttime bruxism, as well as sleeping disorders - snoring, episodes of apnea, talking during sleep or hallucinations. Tobacco, caffeine consumption, alcohol consumption and sleep medication, depression and anxiety can all have an influence.

Bruxism affects both children and adults. In the case of children, these episodes are mainly related to the normal exfoliation of the teeth and their positioning in the jaws. More serious cases may be related to anxiety situations. It is common for bruxism to occur also associated with nasal obstruction and respiratory complaints resulting from hypertrophy of the tonsils and adenoids.

As age grows, bruxism tends to become less regular and even disappear. In the case of adults, bruxism should be seen as a pathology and be corrected as soon as possible, avoiding to the maximum its consequences.

What is the treatment?

The treatment of bruxism is performed according to the specificity of the case and only after the identification of the causes. Protective devices - custom acrylic plates - for night use can prevent enamel wear.

"It is equally important to educate the chewing muscles so that they do not exercise these nonfunctional movements, avoiding the intake of caffeine and alcohol that, in general, exalt the most anxious personalities." Sports practice, posture correction, relaxation therapies and good habits of life are other complementary forms of treatment.In cases where the teeth are already too worn it is necessary to rehabilitate them, using fixed crowns or direct restorations to restore balance, function and aesthetics, "says Professor João Caramês.

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