Most people will clench or grind their teeth at some point in their lives.   It can happen during day or night.  

Bruxism is actually one of the most common known sleep disorders. In most patients, the majority of the damage is during sleeping hours.  It is often symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex.  For those that do clench or grind their teeth, the reflex is initiated during deep sleep or even naps.  

Typically, people grind the front teeth against each other laterally.  This side to side action puts undue strain on the chewing muscles and the temporomandibular joints.  Earache, depression, headaches, eating disorders, and anxiety are among the most common symptoms of bruxism. These symptoms also accompany health issues such as chronic stress, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol abuse.

Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several causes of tooth wear.

Reasons for the treatment of bruxism

Here are some of the main reasons why we treat bruxism:

Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss. It damages the gums and leads to loose teeth and deep pockets, where bacteria invade and destroy the bone.

Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the chewing surfaces lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.

Arthritis – In many cases, bruxing can lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints.

Myofascial pain – Clenching/grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth, sometimes causing debilitating headaches and muscle pain in the head/neck.

Treatment options for bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available.  Here are some common ways to treat bruxism:

  • Mouthguards/Nightguards – We fabricate a custom mouthguard to help to stabilize the bite as well as to prevent damage to the teeth and TMJ.
  • NTI device – Only covers the front teeth and is suited for patients with a history of headaches or migraines.
  • Botox® – Used torelax and weaken the muscles.  Botox® can weaken the muscles enough to prevent grinding but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.

We will also discuss relaxation exercises, stress management education, and biofeedback mechanisms. We can reverse some of the damage from grinding with a variety of restorative dental procedures

If you have questions or concerns about bruxism, please contact our office.