Bruxism is an oral habit 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 jaws. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day. Stress can cause patients to unintentionally brux and grind.
Bruxism is one of the most commonly known sleep disorders. It is a neuromuscular, subconscious activity controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active, while the ability to control bruxism is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches, headaches, aching facial muscles, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, chronic stress and a general unrested feeling in the morning.
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 head and neck region. And in severe cases, it can result in incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures. If left untreated, these fractures may require restorative treatment or they can even result in tooth loss.
- Arthritis. In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly. This is a very painful consequence that often can not be reversed.
Though there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services available through our office to help treat bruxism:
- Bruxism Devices. An acrylic device can be designed specifically for you. They minumize the damage caused by burxism and often disrupt the bruxism habit completely from occuring. These devices must be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
Once bruxing is under control, a number of dental procedures can be completed to restore the pleasant aesthetic appearance of your smile, if severe wear has occured.