Sleep Bruxism: From Childhood to Adulthood

Sleep bruxism is the third most common sleep disorder. It consists of repetitive jaw muscle activity characterized by the clenching / grinding of teeth and bracing / thrusting of the mandible during sleep. Although the prevalence of sleep bruxism in children and adults had been reported to be up to 50 and 13% respectively, exact frequency is expected to be much higher due to research limitations and the fact that most bruxers are unaware of their habit. The etiology of sleep bruxism is still not known. Current literature, however, suggests that it is regulated centrally and not peripherally. Central causes can be broadly divided into pathophysiological factors like altered brain chemistry, genetics, drug/caffeine consumption, smoking and psychosocial factors which include stress, anxiety as well as personality traits.

Sleep bruxism can cause serious problems for both patients and oral health professionals. Biological, physical and aesthetic consequences of sleep bruxism can occur at the level of the teeth / restorations, periodontium and musculoskeletal system. Besides dental problems like restoration failure, sleep bruxism has also been associated with a whole host of medical issues including obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux, temporomandibular disorders (TMD) and headaches. Sleep bruxism can affect the quality of life of patients and also that of their families. This two-part lecture aims to introduce oral health professionals to the sleep bruxism phenomenon, its diagnosis and management. The latter include pharmacologic, psychological and dental strategies. Dental treatment for sleep bruxism usually takes the form of occlusal splints. Early detection and timely management of sleep bruxism by oral health professionals is essential to prevent its possible consequences.

Learning Objectives:

  • To understand sleep bruxism and its contributing factors
  • To recognize the importance of sleep bruxism
  • To acquire the skills and know the tools for diagnosing sleep bruxism
  • To review the various strategies for managing sleep bruxism
  • To appreciate the variety of occlusal splints

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