Bruxism or tooth grinding and clenching is a common problem that afflicts many of us at different stages throughout our lives. Bruxism is often stress related. Under certain circumstances alteration to the occlusion of the teeth (i.e. after a filling is placed) or after a traumatic injury to the temporomandibular joint (jaw joint or TMJ) can cause bruxism and lead to the classic signs and symptoms of this condition. In some cases the pain associated with Bruxism can be confused with wisdom tooth pain. Although tooth grinding /clenching can occur during waking hours, this usually occurs whilst sleeping.
The main signs and symptoms of a bruxism problem are:
If you are suffering from any of these symptoms, or have noticed your teeth becoming worn, there are different treatment methods that can be adopted depending on the severity of the case. Once a patient has been diagnosed as suffering from a bruxism problem the first step is for the patient to become aware of it.
Step One – Awareness
Step Two – Appliance intervention
If pain persists a combination of analgesics and muscle relaxants maybe required.
Where the above treatment fails, investigations into the TMJ it self may be carried out. Occasionally degenerative joints are found to be the underlying cause of the symptoms requiring correctional surgery, orthodontics and/or Full Mouth Bite Rehabilitation. This fortunately is very rare.
Use of a splint is recommended for all people who suffer bruxism as well as patients with restorations requiring protection ie. Crowns, Veneers, Implants and fillings.
Factors that increase the risk of Bruxism (and erosion)
There are several factors which increase the risk of future wear and damage from bruxism.
Fortunately Bruxism can be controlled in most cases. As stated bruxism is often stress related. I often say to my patients, “Before we begin any treatment for bruxism how about taking a holiday?”
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect the lower jaw, or mandible, to the temporal bones at the sides of the head. These joints are flexible and allow the jaw to move smoothly up and down and side to side enabling us to talk, chew and yawn. TMJ dysfunction (tooth grinding) involves facial pain, clicking sounds in the TMJ and restricted movement of the jaw. It is otherwise known as tooth grinding.
TMJ disorders are best treated cautiously, using treatment methods that do not have any permanent effect on the teeth and jaw joint. Commonly TMJ disorders are of a temporary nature and simple treatments are used to help reduce symptoms and restore jaw function. A tooth grinding treatment plan will be developed and specifically customised for your needs. For the best results it is important to follow your treatment plan.
The treatment plan may include some of the following treatments:
In some cases the treatment may take up to several months to be effective.