What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is the process of fringing or clenching the teeth. Whether patients grind their teeth consciously or unconsciously, it is imperative to identify the underlying cause in order to build an effective treatment plan. In many cases, patients grind their teeth while they sleep, or as a result of stress or anxiety.
Common Signs of Teeth Grinding
Patients who grind their teeth can exhibit a wide range of symptoms, ranging from headaches to jaw pain. Understanding how these symptoms relate to your dental health can help patients get the care they need.
Patients may notice signs of teeth grinding such as worn or chipped teeth. Because teeth grinding regularly causes stress on the biting surfaces of the teeth, the tooth enamel is more prone to wear, chipping, and fracturing.
In addition, teeth grinding can cause:
- Facial pain
- Jaw tightness
- Chipped, fractured, or cracked teeth
- Flattened or worn teeth
If left untreated, patients may begin to experience tooth sensitivity and dental pain. In advanced cases, teeth grinding can lead to TMJ complications.
It is important to note that some patients don’t realize they grind their teeth because they do not show any symptoms. This is especially true if teeth grinding and clenching occur during sleep. A routine visit designed to analyze the teeth, gums, joints, and muscles can help our team spot signs of teeth grinding.
Treating Teeth Grinding
Treating teeth grinding is dependent upon its underlying cause. Dr. S will perform a comprehensive examination of the joints, muscles, teeth, and gums to check for signs of teeth grinding. Once the cause of teeth grinding is established, Dr. S will explore all plausible treatment options and build a personalized treatment plan.
The goal of treatment is to address any damage as well as prevent further teeth grinding and damage.
Oral Appliance Therapy: For patients with TMD, a splint can prevent the teeth from coming together and help reposition the bite. A splint is similar to a nightguard, and it allows your jaw joints and muscles to shift into proper alignment.
Restorative Dentistry: Depending on the needs of the patients, certain restorative techniques can be employed to correct the bite and address signs of damage. Some may benefit from simple tooth bonding; while others may need a more advanced restorative treatment to restore health and balance to their bite.
Orthodontics: In some cases, realigning the teeth may help release pressure off of the biting surfaces of the teeth, which can reduce the risk of teeth grinding.
What Causes Tooth Grinding?
While teeth grinding can be a result of stress and anxiety, it may also be the result of an abnormal bite, missing teeth, crooked teeth, and sleep disorders. Research has suggested that teeth grinding can be a direct effect of sleep apnea. When the tongue collapses in the airway, the brain may send a signal to the jaw, which causes it to move back and forth until the tongue is removed from the airway.
Factors such as your jaw positions, dental trauma, and strain can also contribute to teeth grinding.