Bruxism

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What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is excessive clenching, teeth grinding or chewing more so than normal. This can lead to excessive wear on teeth which may cause:

  • Permanent loss of enamel and tooth structure
  • Cracking and splitting of teeth
  • Damage to jaw joints

Excessive clenching and grinding are unhealthy actions that can occur in adults and children. Bruxism can occur during the day or at night.

What causes Bruxism?

Studies are still being conducted to investigate the causes of bruxism. Some physical and/or psychological factors may contribute to bruxism, including:

  • Stress, anxiety and tension
  • Sleep disorders
  • Abnormal bite or jaw alignment
  • Illness, nutritional deficiencies or dehydration

What are the Signs and Symptoms?

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These vary with the intensity, frequency and nature of clenching or grinding and may include:

  • Chronic facial pain with tension headaches and neck aches
  • Often partners or family can ‘hear’ a grinder
  • Pain on biting
  • Cracks, chips and fractures in teeth
  • Clicking of the jaw, or pain in jaw joints that feels like an earache
  • Teeth are worn flat – often to the dentine
  • Stiff or tight facial, neck or temporal muscles

What are the treatment options?

One option for treatment is to try to remove the causes of bruxism such as: stress management and relaxation techniques. The damage caused by bruxism may also be repaired through the use of muscle relaxants, pain relievers and massage for muscular facial pain.

If grinding or clenching occurs during the day  you need to become conscious of this and put reminders around where you work during the day to remind you to stop the habit.

Biofeedback is an option mainly for daytime clenchers, with electronic monitoring which measures the tension in the jaw muscles. Clenchers then learnt how to relax their muscles. In severe cases, you may need to be referred to a TMJ specialist.

Change the behaviour that causes bruxism. Occlusal splint therapy teaches the patient how to rest the mouth.

What is an Occlusal Splint?

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An occlusal splint is a night guard that is custom made to fit over your upper teeth.

  • It protects your teeth from further wear and may also protect against chipping and cracking of the teeth
  • It opens your bite up so that it takes some pressure off your jaw joints and muscles
  • An occlusal splint evens out your bite, taking the pressure off your teeth. This may improve toothache or pain on chewing.
  • The therapy may encourage you to stop grinding or clenching.

How can the damage be repaired?

In order to repair damaged teeth and build up your bite or occlusion we may need a combination of fillings, crowns, inlays and possibly root canal therapy (where fractures have extended into the pulp).

In some cases extraction may be necessary if teeth are badly damaged. A denture or plate, bridges or implants may be used to replace missing teeth and increase the support taking pressure of the remaining teeth.

See us for more information on treatment for bruxism.

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