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Bruxism Extinguisher

Grind teeth and pour pain over them.
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Bruxism (teeth grinding) is one of the most common sleep disorders, and the typical recommendation is for the bruxist to wear a dental guard at night to prevent damage to the teeth. The problem with this solution is that these guards don't stop the teeth-grinding habit; they merely mute its effect. Therefore, the guard must be worn for the rest of the bruxist's life. Good for the dental guard industry. Bad for the bruxist's ego.

Let's treat bruxism as any other bad habit, with negative feedback -- with PAIN! Replace the traditional dental guard with a dental guard that pops or snaps when compressed. Variations on the negative feedback could be aplenty -- spines that gouge the gums on compression, etc. Soon the bad habit of teeth grinding will be gone. Hopefully not replaced with a subconscious fear of chewing.

As evidence of this treatment's effectiveness, I present you with a successful treatment of a similar sleep disorder -- snoring. My wife used to snore, but I extinguished that habit through negative feedback (waking her up and teasing her each time, not snapping, popping her or poking her with spines).

swimswim, Jan 23 2013

Possible mechanism for inducing mild pain in the mouth. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clicker
[swimswim, Jan 23 2013]

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       Bruxism also causes intense headaches from prolonged clenching of the jaw, a symptom which mouthgaurds do not relieve.   

       [swim], you correctly identify bruxism as a sleep disorder, but then later refer to it as a habit, which I dispute. A subtle difference lies there, I think. The question here is whether negative feedback, a superliminal behavior modification technique, can be employed to curb a behavior which by its very nature is entirely subliminal.   

       I cede the floor.
Alterother, Jan 23 2013

       Good point. And I think the answer is that it is a habit -- or so master Wikipedia says. But I don't think there is a reason why something cannot be a sleep disorder and a habit.
swimswim, Jan 23 2013

       Behavior modification techniques mostly work on the superliminal level; i.e. they draw your awareness to something you are doing habitually, allowing you to consider the behavior and realize the impetus and ultimate cause. With a waking habit, it's a matter of where your attention lies: you may not realize immediately that you are engaging in the behavior, but you are conscious of it to some degree. When asleep, things are different. The impetus originates in an entirely different part of the brain, and the ultimate cause of the somnolent behavior is quite different as well.   

       My wife is a bruxist, and we've gone through a number of trials attempting to cure her of the behavior. The most knowledgable-seeming expert we've spoken with suggested that bruxism and the like are rooted in the motor function regions of the brain, rather than in the 'subconscious' mind, where daytime nervous habits spring from. This is what leads me to question the idea.   

       Let me put it another way: Jenny knows that she's been bruxing when she wakes up with a headache. How is something that wakes her via induced pain going to be any different?   

       Snoring is something else entirely (IMO): waking a snorer causes them to change position andor shift into a different sleep pattern, rearranging the nasal, tracheal, and glottal configuration. It's a matter of mechanics, whereas bruxism is a neural thing.
Alterother, Jan 23 2013

       //Jenny knows that she's been bruxing when she wakes up with a headache. How is something that wakes her via induced pain going to be any different?//   

       I think the difference is the immediacy of the feedback. Waking up in the morning and realizing that you had been bruxing at night involves a conscious reflection on the habit. Getting snapped and instantly waking up *while* bruxing ingrains a direct stimulus/response connection.
swimswim, Jan 23 2013

       The question is, will corrective action work on your sleeping brain? Does it depend on what part of the sleep cycle you are in? My guess is that it wouldn't work and merely cause you to keep waking up, but some sleep studies would be required. []
DIYMatt, Jan 23 2013

       That's the gist of my thoughts here as well. It brings to mind deeper implications of _why_ we do these things in our sleep when considering how differently the brain functions between the two states.
Alterother, Jan 23 2013

       guessing that jaw clenching is the autonomous bit and grinding is just a subconscious habit, perhaps even a reaction against the clenching.   

       Guess based on what happens when I drink too much coffee over an extended period of time.
FlyingToaster, Jan 23 2013

       Like many problems, I think this one finds good analogy in bed wetting. A solution for intractable bed-wetters is a device called a "urinary bed alarm" (no, seriously, look it up). Rather than a jolt in the mouth, it wakes the kid up with noise. These reportedly work very well, and I don't see why similar success couldn't be found with the anti-bruxism device described here.
swimswim, Jan 23 2013

       //urinary bed alarm// Fancy words for a couple of wires clipped to the pyjama waistband.
FlyingToaster, Jan 23 2013

       During a period of high stress about six years ago I started having trouble with bruxing. After a few months, I started sticking my thumb between my molars at night, sleeping face-in-hand... took about a week (soaked pillows every night) but it seems to have worked. I did wake up thumb-in-mouth a few times after that, but the relief was far greater than any resulting embarrassment.
lurch, Jan 23 2013

       Snoring is a sleep disorder, largely the result of being overweight. Lose the weight and the snoring reduces.   

       Bruxism, however, is more related to stress, as I understand it.
UnaBubba, Jan 23 2013

       I snore like a boar grizzly, by all accounts. You callin' me fat, bub?
Alterother, Jan 23 2013

       If the CPAP mask fits...
UnaBubba, Jan 24 2013

       I think this would work. I can't leave my teeth together for more than a few seconds before the various metals in the fillings my brother and I were filled full of as cash-cow welfare brats make a small electric current that may as well be chewing tinfoil if my molars touch for too long.   

       I've slept with the sides of my tongue between my teeth for more than thirty years now.   

       Look ma!... no bruxism! Or, somewhat amazingly, any other cavities after not seeing a dentist for twenty two years... but at least we'll always have mercury.   

       Gotta love that mercury.   

       Mercury kills oral bacteria?
UnaBubba, Jan 24 2013

       No, my point was that; if I went for twenty two years without a dental visit, or a cavity, in all that time... were those previous fillings really needed? or was I just a paycheck? {shrugs}   

       That, and that pain responses while sleeping can indeed condition responses even if the subconscious mind is dominant during the conditioning.   

       Surely this has all been covered in some torture textbook or other.   

       I think that pain, introduced while sleeping, is likely to cause tiredness, irritability and through increased stress, increased cortisol levels, thereby increasing the risk of diabetes and heart disease.   

       I may be wrong, but I think that's the way it would pan out.
UnaBubba, Jan 24 2013

       For sure.
It will do all of those things, and probably more. It will also keep you from grinding your teeth if grinding your teeth causes noticable pain while you're asleep.

       I don't know much.
This I know.

       I'm guessing that [lurch]'s remedy worked in part because it hurt whenever he bit his thumb. Is that true, [lurch]?   

       And [UB], I fully agree that the pain would cause waking, but I would argue that this is part of the whole negative feedback package. I failed (FAILED!) to clarify this in the description, but part of the idea was that the bruxist would get popped, jolted, etc into a brief waking state -- just as I described waking my wife to extinguish her sleep-position-related snoring habit.   

       <stumbles off looking for the hypothetical textbook [2fries] mentioned>
swimswim, Jan 24 2013

       In part, I would guess. But not entirely, because I managed to gnash the thumb pretty bad.   

       For me, one of the main problems was that I would hold the pressure all night, so that I got used to it. Then in the morning, taking the pressure *off* was very painful - I'd have to clench my teeth again to get the pain to go away; the pressure required would gradually diminish over the course of a couple of hours.   

       While biting on the thumb was painful, it didn't wake me immediately or anything; it was more of an interrupter to keep me from maintaining that steady pressure.
lurch, Jan 24 2013

       Why not cross this idea with all the other energy generation ideas on the halfbakery? Create a mouthpiece that generates electrical current as you grind away in your sleep.
normzone, Jan 24 2013

       Well, "Grind coffee beans" comes to mind...although probably a bit messy.
Ling, Jan 24 2013

       soften leather.
FlyingToaster, Jan 24 2013

       Piezoelectric dental guard. Pressure from jaw clenching creates voltage, circuitry increases voltage significantly, metal contacts on the dental guard deliver voltage to mouth, reflex causes jaw to unclench.
whlanteigne, Jan 25 2013


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