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Why this Community was Started

Updated: Mar 15

Not Alone


Do you Grind, Clench or Bite Down in Your Sleep? Well, you’ll be relieved to know you’re not Alone. It seems it’ a common condition for us humans to clench. In fact, it has a name - Bruxism.

caricature of male clenching his teeth
courtesy of istockphoto.com

The age of those afflicted ranges broadly but is commonly estimated to be about 8% - 20% of adults, approximately 15% adolescents and 6 – 50% of children. For the youngest and older adults, the range varies widely because the extremes are influenced by the results of a variety of clinical studies and sleep foundations. And gender can vary too, but not nearly as much as females typically experience bruxism more than males. Regardless, without proper help, your situation may unnecessarily worsen and lead to potential teeth, dental and TMJ (temporomandibular joint) damage. Not to mention unnecessarily experiencing some of the more common symptoms of headaches, mouth rawness or jaw soreness. If any of this sounds familiar or of value to you, I hope you’ll read on and become a part of something you will truly benefit from and consider perhaps sharing your story so that others can benefit from what you have to say or share from your own experience. Either way, after reading this it is my hope that you will at the least know you are not alone, and that viable solutions are available to help.


If you’re at all like me, you may be a little bit skeptical, but I can assure you I know the pain and frustration one can experience. Today, while the symptoms of bruxism are manageable, the condition itself is not because we humans haven’t figured out exactly what causes it. Having suffered from Bruxism for almost a decade now myself, having experienced some success along the way I have come to believe that it can be overcome, but most of us don’t know how and don’t know where to begin with considering the variety of treatment solutions available, let alone opinions on how best to achieve relief.


What I’ve painfully discovered along the way is there isn’t really an established community where people can easily find solutions and share their ideas and knowledge or first-hand experience. Bruxism Support Network through BruxismSupport.org was formed for that purpose. Here you will be able to find helpful information, resources, read the latest trends in the form of periodic blogs by professionals as well as our peers, and where you can participate in an open forum as you search for the right solution for you.


How I Found Out I’m a Classic Clencher.


On one of my annual dental checkups, my dentist asked me if I knew I clenched my teeth. Not really knowing what she was talking about, I said I didn’t, and I asked what she meant by that. She continued to explain to me that she could tell from my tongue that I clench. And, while the symptoms can vary, having what she referred to as a scalloped tongue (an imprint of the teeth on the sides of the tongue) was clearly and indication of bruxism. She said I was a classic clencher and lifted her mirror to show me the imprint on my tongue from my teeth. And there it was. She proceeded to ask if I was aware that I may be grinding my teeth at night and if I ever woke up with my jaw sore. I answered that I wasn’t aware of that, unless perhaps the occasional metallic taste in my mouth I woke up with was related.


Two sketches - Left sketch shows effects of bruxism whereas right sketch shows health teeth
courtesy of odontovida.com

She offered that it may be and that it was likely my fillings being stressed from biting down while I was asleep. This was news to me, but with her being the professional seeing patients all the time, I assumed her assessment was likely spot on. If you grind or clench and have received dental or medical guidance, you’re probably thinking that her recommendation was to buy an OTC (over the counter) mouth guard sooner than later before I did any significant damage, and you would be right about that.


Do you suffer from Bruxism? Take our Brux Quiz today to find out and begin getting back your “best” life!


Common Bruxism Symptoms


o Soreness, rawness or tingling of your cheeks and / or tongue

o Jaw pain or fatigued in the morning

o Sensitive teeth

o Scalloped tongue (imprint of teeth on sides of tongue)

o Metallic taste in mouth

o Ground particles of teeth enamel

o Potential dental damage


Finding this discovery of hers to be somewhat peculiar, I took another look later that evening when I arrived home from work. And there it persisted hours later, a scalloping of the edges of my tongue also resembling somewhat of an arrowhead. Now aware of this symptom, I quickly began to realize that it wasn’t temporary, and likely had been going on for a few months at least. However, up until then my only experience clenching was trying to take an opponent down while training in MMA, but that kind of clenching involves different muscles than those used to grind our teeth and to bite down (Did you know that people with bruxism clench or bite down with a force six times greater than normal biting force? That force of power that can be inflicted on our teeth is astonishing).


flow diagram sketch of Bruxism and some of its causes
courtesy of kamihossus wordpress.com

My dentist ran through the potential solutions for treatment, or managing the symptoms anyway, and so I’ll mention them here. However, I think it goes without saying that because of the nature of the circumstances, it’s inherently a good idea to get a professional opinion from your dentist, orthodontist, primary care doctor or physician; otherwise, a well-intended application of one solution may lead to other complications.


 
 

Potential Solutions to Managing Your Symptoms and the Effects from Bruxism


o Nightguards (similar to a sport mouthguard)

o Medical treatments such as biofeedback

o Medical treatments such as a toxin injection

o Prescription

o Physical therapy

o Natural therapies

o Tension Myositis Syndrome (TMS)


Eventually I purchased an inexpensive and moderately soft yet firm mouthguard (also known as an intraoral nightguard) that I could wear on my upper teeth. From what I’ve read over the years, most people tend to wear a nightguard on their upper teeth, since all you really need to do is protect both the upper and lower teeth with something safely placed in between the biting surfaces, also known as the occlusal area. As time went by, while a little bit annoyed at having to wear a dental mouth guard, I was relieved to no longer have noticed any metallic test in my mouth when I woke up in the morning. So, using a nightguard was a good first step for me.


cartoon sketch of two teeth boxing it out in a grueling grind
courtesy of sleep.di-yi.com.tw

You know, it’s interesting because from an early age, I’ve always been curious about why things work the way they do, you know - cause and effect, and continuously wanting to know what the best solution was for a given problem, etc. So, I experimented with a few different dental guard variations with the hope of alleviating, if not eliminating the problem (I didn’t know at the time that Bruxism as a condition wasn’t treatable – just the symptoms were manageable). Since that morning I realized the metallic taste had been eliminated by protecting my dental fillings from the nightly grinding, all I had to go by for assessing my progress on reducing my clenching was to look occasionally in the mirror to see if the imprint was lessening or not. Sure, it would lessen a little bit from morning to nighttime, but unfortunately, each morning despite using the intraoral nightguard, the imprint on my tongue persisted.


Common Occlusal (between the teeth) Protection Appliances


o Loose mouth guards

§ Rigid

§ Soft silicone

o Fitted mouth guards

§ Boil and bite

§ Formed by a professional

o Partial intraoral appliances

§ Molar only

§ Front teeth only


It seemed like an impossible feat to solve. Perhaps I was a bit too focused on my apparent habit of clenching at night (also known as nocturnal bruxism), as I became more and more aware of the symptoms as time went by. For me, problem solving is something I’m very good at. I can also be a bit relentless in thinking about how I can solve a problem. With Bruxism, that’s probably a complication in and of itself as bruxism can be triggered by stress, and presumably one’s intensity as some of us “Type A” individuals tend to be known for. Unfortunately for me, my experience with clenching was no longer limited to just the scalloped imprint on my tongue from the inner walls and occlusal edges of my teeth, I soon discovered soreness in my jaw and teeth, and a peculiar rawness, almost like tingling on my tongue and cheeks nearly every morning after waking up.


Common Over-the-counter Brands


o Nite Protectors Ranir | Our Products


Eventually, I started making my own guards trying a variety of adjustments and in some cases significant modifications to existing nightguards. And I even began building my own contraptions from scratch all with the hope of alleviating the ever annoying and potentially damaging symptoms and uncomfortable appliance in my mouth. After months of experimentation, I began realizing I was forgetting to put my contraption (bruxism nightguard) in before falling asleep, and not just for one night, but for several nights. I became practically ecstatic, and somewhat astonished in case you’re wondering, as I was successful in fabricating something that worked very well and eventually “broke” the habit so that I didn’t need a guard to protect from clenching. Albeit temporary as it turned out, this was amazing in that for nearly a year I enjoyed life and good sleep without symptoms or a need for some obtrusive device in my mouth while asleep.


Damage and Complications - How Bad Can it Get?


cartoon image of a man grinding his teeth
courtesy of vocal.media

Unfortunately, as is often the case in life, some typical life experience triggered the habit of grinding and clenching again, and I returned to using my own bruxism guard to protect my teeth from the stress and potential damage imposed on them (Did you know that humans can bite down exerting a pressure ranging from 171 psi to as high as 275 pounds per square inch?). I am sure you are curious what it was I built, but because I am not a medical professional and there was some risk in using it, it would be irresponsible to disclose and so I cannot share that information publicly – at least not as of this time.


 
 

Common Triggers


o Stress, feeling out of control

o Oral habits, such as chewing on none-food items

o Personal lifestyles

o Prescription drugs and substance abuse

o TMJ (temporomandibular jaw disorder)


So, I’ve gone about living life using my own bruxism guard version since. Even though I have been unable to repeat the near one-year reprieve I achieved, all of my symptoms have lessened dramatically. Fortunately, I have for the most part managed my bruxism without the need for other treatments. I don’t have to worry about damage to my dental work and while I still notice from time-to-time some pressure on my teeth and jaw, for the most part that peculiar rawness and tingling or burning in my mouth and frequent “soft” temporal headaches are a thing of the past for me. And yes, I am continuing to refine my device believing if it was possible for such a long period, there must be a solution to doing it again.


Unfortunately for others, many are not so lucky. Some people are known for having experienced more complicated, if not damaging, consequences from their bruxism.


Can it Get any Worse? – More Symptoms?


o Mild to significant headaches upon awakening in the morning

o Teeth are relentlessly sensitive

o Teeth are worn or chipped

o TMJ begins to develop

o Pulsatile Tinnitus


Everyone has challenges in life, but one thing is for sure, we don’t all experience the same symptoms.


It is possible for the root problem of your bruxism condition to not only cause any one or more of the symptoms mentioned herein, but it seems clearly possible, if not likely, for it to evolve and manifest itself in other far-more complicated ways. In fact, not only is there the clinically defined term we now know as Bruxism, also often referred to as Sleep Bruxism (SB) or nocturnal bruxism, but there is also another term for the rest of the day, known as Awake Bruxism (AB), and it is thought that 20% of adults alone suffer from clenching during the day (I haven’t read anything about children or adolescents clenching during the day, but it is probably likely happening for them too).


caricature of a woman grinding her teeth in bed
courtesy of odontovida.com

Closing Thoughts


So, yes, I can assure you I know pain and frustration resulting from Bruxism, clenching, grinding and the general stresses in life we tend to take on. And, now I also know I am not the only one. In the United States alone, depending upon what study you read, it is estimated that tens of millions of American suffer from some degree of bruxism.


Bruxism Affects Tens of Millions of Americans


o Women slightly more so than men

o There is Sleep Bruxism and there is Awake Bruxism

o 21 - 52 million adults

o 11 million adolescents and children


Don’t go it Alone or Just Hope it Will Go Away


The mission of BruxismSupport.org is to help others help themselves by providing information, resources, and a community to discuss what has worked, hasn’t worked, what’s new and to simply let those afflicted know they are not alone. With this many people affected, it shouldn’t be a mystery as to

cartoon of man sleeping peacefully without clenching his teeth or grinding in bed
courtesy of zzfdesig122.blogspot.com

what is working and what is not, even if we don’t fully understand how to stop it.


When you’re ready to reclaim your best life and learn to manage your bruxism, work on reducing the triggers and become part of a community of individuals having first-hand experience, knowledge, and resources, jump in on the forum and read our blogs and some of the case studies. Doing so will allow you to receive alerts when blogs you follow are updated, people respond to your questions or comments, and to receive occasional newsletters with new research findings, treatment updates, clinical trial opportunities, new solutions, products, and therapies.


Together, we got this!


 
 


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