Bruxism (grinding/clenching) is an oral parafunctional activity 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 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 limited jaw movement, earaches, headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
- Facial pain. Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to changes in muscle length, leading to muscle pain, limited, painful jaw movement 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 fillings or crowns at a later time.
- Arthritis. bruxism can be associated with painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.
- Change in facial dimension. The distance between the tip of your nose and your chin diminishes as your teeth are milled down by long-term grinding.
Though there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services to help treat bruxism, each with their pros and cons:
- Mouthguards. An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Mouthguards must be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
- NTI-tss device: This device is a type of mouthguard. The idea behind the NTI-tss is to prevent grinding the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle in the jaw.
- Botox®: Botox® can be injected into the muscles responsible for bruxing by disabling them enough to prevent grinding, but not enough to disrupt normal functions like speaking and chewing.
- Prescription medication