Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity which commonly occurs with most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding 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 and 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 teeth 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.
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 one cure for bruxism, our office practices conservative splint therapy for bruxism/clenching such as a mouthguard.
Mouthguard – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Mouthguards are expected to be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage and may be replaced every few years depending upon wear.