Bruxism (also called teeth grinding) – is the habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of your teeth, usually during sleep, but can also occur during the day. The cause of bruxism is unknown but it is often associated with anger, tension, fear, frustration, and stress.
Many people go through periods in their lives where they grind their teeth or clench them from time to time. Bruxism generally does not cause any long term damage when done occasionally. If the problem persists, over time there will be long term damage to the teeth and surrounding tissues in the mouth.
When Does Bruxism Occur?
Bruxism generally occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they are even grinding or clenching their teeth unless they are told so by their partner or by their dentist . There are signs that should give you pause to think that you may be a bruxer. Usually it is a loved one that notices the grinding as it awakens them at night. Another sign is a dull, constant headache or sore jaw when waking in the morning. Cracked, chipped teeth, and wear facets may be noticed by your dentist. Continuous teeth grinding will lead to dental issues, which can result in fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. Habitual teeth grinding will wear the teeth down, remove the cusps on the teeth,and essentially flatten them. When these issues happen, bridges, crowns, root canal therapy, dental implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed. Bruxism can also lead to Temperomandibular Joint Disorder, hearing loss, and even change the appearance of your face.
Treatment Options For Bruxism?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for bruxism. The only way to truly get it under control is to learn to manage stress in our lives better. So what can a dentist do to help? Luckily, dentistry has developed some techniques to protect our teeth from bruxism.
Treatment options include:
-Fabrication of a Custom Mouth Guard. This will act as buffer to protect your teeth during sleep. It does not necessarily cause the bruxism habit to stop, but does protect the teeth from damage.
-Prescription for Muscle Relaxants. This can allow relief from tight muscles surrounding the face.
Other tips to help you stop bruxism include:
-Avoid or cut back on foods and drinks that contain caffeine.
-Avoid alcohol. Grinding tends to intensify after alcohol consumption.
-Do not chew on pencils or pens. Avoid chewing gum as it allows your jaw muscles to get more used to clenching and makes you even more likely to grind your teeth.
-Attempt to train yourself not to clench or grind your teeth. If you notice that you clench or grind during the day, re-position the tip of your tongue between your teeth, or wear a daytime soft guard on your lower teeth. This practice trains your jaw muscles to relax and also is a mental cue for the brain to stop grinding your teeth.
-Relax your jaw muscles at night by holding a warm wash cloth against your face in front of your earlobe.
New Treatment Option For Bruxism
In the past, once damage from bruxism reached the point of needing a full coverage dental crown both dentist and patient understood the treatment would see limited success. This is because of the strength of traditional porcelain crowns or porcelain fused to metal crowns was not up to the task of dealing with the extra forces over the long haul. Recent technology advances in dental materials have allowed the development of a new type of crown called the BruxZir crown.
BruxZir Solid Zirconia is a monolithic solid zirconia restoration with no porcelain overlay. This type of crown when used in patients with bruxism offers a long term restoration built to last. It is virtually chip proof, making it an ideal restoration for patients with bruxism. BruxZir crowns can even be used over a dental implants.
Bruxism can be a terrible habit with the develoment of long term issues. While no known cure exists, dental materials advancement has allowed the dentist to maintain the health of your teeth under the extreme pressures and forces of bruxism. Visit your dentist regularly so bruxism can be diagnosed as early as possible to ward off potential issues.