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What is Daytime Bruxism Or Teeth Grinding?

Bruxism is characterized by teeth grinding and clenching the teeth together. This is typically a stress response, and is a fairly common disorder. It is estimated that between 8% and 31% of the population suffer from this issue. The two types of bruxism are awake or daytime bruxism and nighttime or sleep bruxism. Daytime mouth guard (also known as daytime bruxism splint) is a common treatment option which will be discussed in detail within this article.

Daytime bruxers often have the benefit of knowing they have bruxism before nighttime bruxers because they grind and clench when they’re awake. Bruxism can inflict damage to your teeth and jaw if left untreated. Dental clinicians and researchers do not know the exact cause of bruxism but they have found stress to be a common factor. Other risk factors include: sleep disorders/ medical conditions (such as sleep apnea), alcohol/ caffeine consumption, certain medications such as antidepressants, and smoking.

So, what are your treatment options for daytime bruxism? What impact does awake bruxism have on your teeth and jaw if left untreated? And how are awake bruxism and sleep bruxism different? 

woman with daytime guard 1 woman with daytime guard 2

TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR DAYTIME BRUXISM

Treatment options for daytime and nighttime bruxism are generally the same, although the effectiveness of treatments may differ depending on when you grind and the root cause of your bruxism. Daytime bruxers have the advantage of awareness. If you can feel yourself clenching while awake, you can train yourself to stop the action, but if you are clenching and grinding while asleep, it is very difficult to isolate and manage bruxism events. Treatment options for bruxism include:

Stress Management:

Increased stress levels can trigger both teeth grinding and teeth clenching. Many bruxers have found success in stress management and relaxation techniques such as yoga and meditation. Some people find they only grind or clench in high stress situations, so it can be useful to identify the cause of stress or anxiety in your life and eliminate it, if possible. Interestingly, daytime bruxism is far more common in high stress careers. Though it occurs in only 10% of the population at large (Mercut et al., 2013), an estimated 50% of law enforcement officers (Carvalho et al., 2008) and 59.2% of IT professionals (Rao et al., 2011) suffer from the effects of daytime clenching.

daytime bruxism splint

Mouth Guards / Occlusal Splints:

One of the most common forms of treatment for sleep bruxism (a.k.a. nocturnal bruxism) is a night guard. However, most mouth guard companies also make daytime mouth guards for sufferers of awake bruxism. These are typically thinner and less bulky than those worn at night. Daytime mouth guard or daytime teeth grinding guard prevent the upper and lower teeth from coming into contact and encourage the jaw to settle in a relaxed position. This can prevent tooth wear, jaw pain and soreness, headaches, earaches, and other facial pain associated with bruxing.

Daytime Mouth Guards:

The good news is that daytime mouth guard (also known with different names like daytime bite guard or daytime bruxism splint) is usually an effective treatment for grinding because the patient’s awareness makes it easier to manage than sleep bruxism. Daytime mouth guards are made specifically with daytime bruxers in mind. They are crafted from a thin layer of hard acrylic (no more than 1 mm thick) to provide comfort and protection. This thinner device allows you to speak comfortably with it in place and is incredibly discreet.

 

Medications:

In some cases, your healthcare provider or dentist may recommend pain relief medications or muscle relaxants to help ease teeth grinding and jaw clenching. 

Botox Injections:

Botulinum toxin, or botox, injected into the mandibular, or jaw muscles has proved to be a successful technique in treating bruxism and TMJ disorders. It works by weakening the targeted muscles, temporarily relaxing them and providing relief to some bruxers.

Supplements and Vitamins:

Certain vitamin deficiencies can trigger teeth grinding. Some such vitamins include magnesium, calcium, and vitamins B and C. Lack of these nutrients leads to an unbalanced central nervous system, and more stress in the body, potentially leading to bruxism. If you are deficient in these nutrients, add more into your diet or through supplementation.

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IMPACT OF BRUXISM IF LEFT UNTREATED

Repeated teeth grinding over time can lead to many painful side effects. The symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Jaw muscle soreness / jaw joint pain
  • Worn teeth enamel and eventually broken / cracked teeth
  • Tension headaches and earaches
  • Facial pain
  • Fatigue from lack of sleep

Teeth grinding can also lead to the development of temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ or TMD. TMD is the dysfunction of the jaw joint which causes jaw muscle pain, facial pain, clicking / locking of the jaw joint, and more. It is important to seek treatment for bruxism to avoid unnecessary damage to your teeth and jaw.

daytime mouth guard bruxism

DAYTIME BRUXISM VS. NIGHTTIME BRUXISM

The main difference between the two types of bruxism are, of course, the time of day the patient grinds. Sleep bruxism is categorized as a sleep related movement disorder while daytime teeth grinding is a parafunctional activity (Mercut et al, 2013). The Mayo Clinic explains that awake bruxism is most likely a result of stress or a habit formed in deep concentration. Adversely, “sleep bruxism may be a sleep-related chewing activity associated with arousals during sleep” (2017). 

Another difference between sleep and awake bruxism is the prevalence in the population. A study conducted in 2019 “revealed a prevalence of 5.0% of the total population for awake bruxism and 16.5% for sleep bruxism”. However, other studies have come to different conclusions. A study conducted in 2016 found sleep bruxism to be present in 8% of the population and awake bruxism to be present in 20%. Researchers and clinicians struggle to identify the exact prevalence because many bruxers go undiagnosed. Additionally, results of studies such as these are skewed by the fact that awake bruxers have more awareness of their grinding habits than sleep bruxers.

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CONCLUSION

Awake bruxism differs from sleep bruxism in its etiology, prevalence, and diagnosis. Of course, most obviously, it is different from sleep bruxism in that it occurs during the day. Treatment options are generally the same for all types of bruxism, although there are custom fit daytime mouth guards that are thinner and crafted with daytime bruxers in mind. Excessive muscle activity and teeth grinding can lead to a host of other problems including tooth enamel wear and temporomandibular disorders (TMD). To avoid further damage to your teeth, and protect your overall oral health, seek treatment for your bruxism right away.

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