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?
- Tooth Mobility. An important component of periodondontal disease is the loss of supporting bone around the roots of your teeth. Losing bone to periodontal disease, clenching and grinding, is usually painless and often not apparent to the patient. With reduced bone support, your teeth may no longer be able to fully support your teeth without the risk of progression of damage or disease. During our examinations, we look for tooth mobility. loose teeth are not normal and tooth looseness can harm the remaining bone support, as well as increasing your risk for developing more advanced periodontal disease.
- Gum recession. Bruxism can, in some cases contribute to 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 myofascial region and in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which, if left untreated, may require restorative treatment at a later time.
- Tooth Mobility. During our examinations, we look for tooth mobility. Loose teeth are not normal and tooth looseness can harm the remaining bone support, as well as increasing your risk for developing more advanced periodontal disease.
- Arthritis. In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.
Though there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services available through our office to help treat bruxism:
- Mouthguards. An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Mouthguards must be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
- Occlusal adjustment an equilibration. Tooth looseness is the result of opposing teeth contacting in an unfavorable way. It is very important that your teeth function in a manner that promotes health and stability.
- Botox®: In some advanced situations Botox® can be injected into the muscles responsible for bruxing by disabling them enough to prevent grinding, but not enough to disrupt normal functions like speaking and chewing. This type of treatment has show success for many patients who have more severe forms of clencing and bruxing. Do not fear, there is hope!
Once bruxing is under control, and in consultation with your general dentist, we can perform a variety of dental procedures to restore the pleasant aesthetic appearance to your smile such as crown application, gum grafts, and crown lengthening.