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Bruxism and Epilepsy: 10 Symptoms of Teeth Grinding

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Bruxism and Epilepsy: Complete Guide

Anxiety, stress, anger, bad mood, or tension are circumstances of life that most people (if not all) have experienced at some point. In those moments, bruxism appears involuntarily and unconsciously, which is also a consequence of epilepsy. So what is the connection between bruxism and epilepsy?

Grinding or clenching teeth is a reaction that can also occur while sleeping and we may not even know it. Even some health conditions can be the cause of teeth grinding. This article discusses bruxism and epilepsy: What are their causes? What is the relationship between bruxism and epilepsy? And what happens during a seizure?

 

Difference Between Epilepsy and Seizures

To identify the difference, it is necessary first to clarify what epilepsy and seizures are.
Epilepsy is a neurological disorder, not a mental illness. It is a brain alteration that produces recurrent seizures in a person for some time, but it is not considered a degenerative condition and in most cases can be managed with medication or alternative therapies.

In the United States, approximately 3 million people have epilepsy. The Epilepsy Foundation notes that in 2014, the most frequent diagnoses were in children under 10 years old and people over 55 years old.

According to the World Health Organization, around 50 million people worldwide have epilepsy, making it the most common neurological disorder.

On the other hand, seizures are the result of an unexpected change in brain electrical activity. This sudden variation produces involuntary and violent contractions of the body’s muscles that generate shaking of the head, legs, and arms.

Seizures cause loss of consciousness, external salivation, tongue biting, and loss of urine.

Seizure is a common consequence of epilepsy, but not all seizures derive from that health condition. Cardiovascular disease, low blood sugar, alcoholism, stroke, withdrawal syndrome from psychoactive substances, high fever, or meningitis can also cause seizures. 

bruxism and epilepsy

 

What is Bruxism and What are its Causes?

Bruxism is a behavior in which a person clenches, grinds, or gnashes their teeth. This behavior can occur during the day or at night while sleeping.

Daytime bruxism may be a result of anxiety, distress, stress, anger, or tension. It can also be a habit during deep concentration.

On the other hand, nighttime bruxism (sleep bruxism) is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. People who clench or grind their teeth while sleeping are more susceptible to other sleep disorders, such as snoring or obstructive sleep apnea (pausing in breathing).

Sleep bruxism is a condition that is common in childhood. Many people who have this problem do not have related medical or psychiatric histories.

Severe bruxism can alter the bite and misalign it. It can also cause teeth to move out of their proper location, which has effects on the temporomandibular joint.

Frequent and intense bruxism can affect the teeth, generate headaches, and have significant effects on the jaw. 

teeth grinding

 

What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?

Some of the signs that indicate the possibility of having bruxism are:

1. Disruption of sleep

2. Wear on dental enamel

3. Flattened, fractured, loose, or broken teeth

4. Difficulty opening or closing the jaw

5. Pain or inflammation of the jaw, neck, or face

6. Headaches that begin in the temples

7. Jaw with stiff muscles

8. Discomfort similar to ear pain

9. Bites on the inside of cheeks

10. Dental sensitivity 

tooth sensitivity

 

What is the Relationship Between Bruxism and Epilepsy?

The relationship is direct. Epilepsy is a neurological condition in which patterns in the brain change unexpectedly, causing seizures, which can lead to clenching the jaws and grinding the teeth, among other effects.

In other words, bruxism, sleep disturbances such as insomnia, sleepwalking, night terrors, and rhythmic grinding of teeth induced by temporal lobe seizures can also occur.

 

Seizures and Mouthguards 

A night guard is often recommended to protect the teeth during sleep. The mouthguard creates a space between the jaws and covers the teeth entirely, preventing contact. It also absorbs some of the pressure exerted by clenching.

A mouthguard is not a cure for bruxism, but rather a protective measure to prevent dental wear. By reducing pressure, it allows the jaw and muscles to relax. The mouthguard should be made of hard acrylic and must be custom-fitted to each person to avoid significant damage to the temporomandibular joint.

Other measures to manage bruxism

Some of the recommendations to minimize the possibility of bruxism:

• Listen to music, take a hot shower, and exercise

• Avoid the use of stimulants at night

• Maintain good sleep habits

• Do not consume coffee, tea, or alcohol after dinner at night

• Have a healthy diet and avoid very hard foods

Generally, daytime bruxism occurs during times of concentration, stress, or anxiety. The recommendation is to be mindful and learn to relax the facial muscles.

Regular dental exams are the best alternative for identifying bruxism.

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References

1. Brugué, Lia (February 3, 2020) What is bruxism / https://www.saludymedicina.org/post/que-es-el-bruxismo.

2. Garrigós PDD, Paz GA, Castellanos JL. Bruxism: Beyond the teeth. An inter- and multidisciplinary approach. Rev ADM. 2015;72(2):70-77 / https://www.medigraphic.com/cgi-bin/new/resumen.cgi?IDARTICULO=57875

3. Mayo Clinic (August 10, 2017) Bruxism (teeth grinding) /https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/bruxism/symptoms-causes/syc-20356095

4. Mayo Clinic (Feb 24, 2021) Seizures / https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/seizure/symptoms-causes/syc-20365711

5. MedlinePlus (January 23, 2022) Epilepsy / https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/article/000694.htm

6. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (July 2022) Bruxism / https://www.nidcr.nih.gov/espanol/temas-de-salud/el-bruxismo

7. Oyorza Juan Fernando, Valdés Constanza, Bravo Rodrigo (October 2021) Sleep Bruxism /  https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/sleep-bruxism

8. Spanish Society of Family and Community Medicine (2013) Seizure and epilepsy / https://www.semfyc.es/recursos-ciudadania/guia-practica/28/286

9. Yetman Daniel, York Susan (December 7, 2021) Identifying and Treating Nocturnal Seizures / https://www.healthline.com/health/epilepsy/nocturnal-seizures

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