Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that commonly occurs in most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day.
Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active, while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches, headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
- Gum recession. Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding can damage the soft tissue directly and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.
- Facial pain. Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofacial region and in severe cases, result in incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to tooth damage, which, if left untreated, may require significant restorative treatment at a later time.
- Arthritis. In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints, preventing the jaw from opening and closing smoothly.
Although there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services available through our office to help treat bruxism:
- Bite plane (Nightguard) An acrylic bite plane can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Bite planes must be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
- Botox®: Botox® can be injected into the muscles responsible for bruxing, to help reduce grinding and clenching, but not enough to disrupt normal functions like speaking and chewing.