What is Bruxism and Why Should You Care?
For many the condition is temporary and mild, presenting no real health threat. But whether you do it while you sleep or it occurs during waking hours, you may not realize that it’s happening until you start to notice headaches, pain in your jaw, or wear and tear to your chompers. And by then the situation has likely gotten a little more serious.
As a bodybuilder or athlete, you could be more prone to this issue than most. If you want to keep your smile full, healthy, and white, like the fitness chick to the right, take these tips into consideration sooner rather than later.
A Few Causes of Bruxism
Although many attribute the condition to high stress levels, which can certainly be a contributing factor, the truth is that bruxism is a habitual activity, even though you may do it subconsciously, like twirling your hair, tapping your foot, or jingling change in your pocket. And when you’re lifting you likely clench your teeth, which can definitely lead to the formation of bruxism.
Athletes using performance enhancers are also at a greater risk, especially if you use a strong cycle of steroids or human growth hormone (HGH). Feeling of aggression and stress are exaggerated when you are cycling, are are nighttime conditions such as sleep apnea and, as you may have guessed, bruxism.
So how do you go about preventing the onset of this condition, which can cause you serious oral health problems?
Since you no doubt want to avoid the tooth decay and gum loss that are hallmarks of bruxism, not to mention more critical and lasting issues like TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, migraines, and perhaps even eating problems, finding a way to stop yourself from clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth before you even start is important. Luckily, there are many want to prevent the onset of bruxism or quickly treat it once you are diagnosed.
Symptoms of Bruxism
The first thing to do is become aware of the signs and symptoms. This will not only help you to catch yourself clenching or grinding, but you can actively try to avoid these activities. Of course, that won’t necessarily help you when you sleep.
If, however, you’re worried that bruxism is occurring while you catch your zees (if you wake up with an aching jaw, for example) you can arrange for a sleep study that includes EMG (electromyography) monitoring to measure signals from your jaw muscles. You can even get home units (a bedside EMG device) or use a biofeedback headband to check on yourself.
Seek Dental Assistance
And if you’re sure that you’re suffering from bruxism, you can talk to your dentist about getting fitted for a night guard. These flexible, plastic dental shields form a barrier between teeth that helps your jaw to relax, thus preventing clenching and grinding while you snooze.
You can also get daytime bite guards to use when you lift if you’re worried about damaging your teeth due to bruxism (whether you’ve been diagnosed or not). You might also consider working with a behavior coach to modify your habits so that you can halt the development of bruxism.
If left untreated, this condition could lead to all kinds of health issues. You might end up with severely worn teeth and gums (leading to further issues), you could wind up with pain in your neck, jaw, and face, and you might even have to foot the bill for oral surgery in Bismarck, Boston, or whatever city you live and train in.
Since weight lifting, and nutrition or hormonal supplementation, may contribute to the condition, it’s important that you learn to spot the warning signs and do what you have to in order to ensure that your sport doesn’t lead to bruxism. Keeping your teeth and gums healthy, will contribute to lasting health in your day-to-day life.