Bruxism is the medical term for a condition that involves grinding the teeth together (when not chewing) and/or clenching the jaw, either during the day or at night. Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear. Symptoms include
While, some tooth wear can result from overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks
Most of the damage caused by bruxism occurs during sleep. Typically, the incisors and canines (front 6 upper and lower teeth) of opposing arches grind against each other laterally. This side to side action puts undue strain on the medial pterygoid muscles and the temporomandibular joints. The chewing reflex should be inactive during sleep, but in people who suffer from bruxism, the nerves of the reflex pathways remain active.
Bruxism should be treated promptly to avoid:
Gum recession and tooth loss
Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss: first, it damages the soft tissue directly; and second, it leads to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria can colonize and erode supporting bone.
Abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which will
In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).
The grinding associated with bruxism eventually shortens and blunts the teeth, resulting in muscle pain in the myofascial region, as well as severe headaches.
Treatment options for bruxism
A variety of helpful devices and tools are available. Some common ways bruxism is treated are:
Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education
If you have questions or concerns about bruxism, please ask Dr. Couzens.