What is Bruxism?
Bruxism, also known as tooth grinding, is the condition of forcefully sliding the chewing surfaces of the bottom teeth over the chewing surfaces of the top teeth, generally in a sideways, back-and-forth movement. Bruxism is often accompanied by clenching which is tightly clamping the top and bottom teeth together. People who grind and clench their teeth are referred to as bruxers and they unintentionally bite down very forcefully subconsciously.
Why is Bruxism a Problem?
Over time the complications of bruxism may cause permanent damage to the teeth and uncomfortable oral and facial pain. During sleep the force of bruxing can be up to six times greater than normal waking biting pressure, approximately 250 pounds of force per square inch, and last for up to 40 minutes per hour of sleep. The complications of bruxism include:
Damage to the teeth
Broken fillings and other dental work
Worsening of jaw joint problems
Limitation or difficulty in jaw opening and closing
How is Bruxism Treated?
There is no cure for bruxism, instead the condition is managed.
The first step is to have an examination by Dr. Randolph. During this exam, Dr. Randolph will check for tenderness in your jaw muscles, as well as for any dental and gum tissue abnormalities and damage caused by bruxism. Dr. Randolph will also interview you in an attempt to arrive at a cause for your bruxism.
Generally, as a first, and sometimes only step, the pain and discomfort from bruxism is alleviated using a custom fitted night guard.
Further management of bruxism varies depending upon its cause.
Stress Related Bruxism – Physical Therapy, biofeedback exercises or counseling may help you to relax and provide some additional relief. Prescription muscle relaxants may temporarily ease spasm in clenched and overworked jaw muscles when more conservative treatments fail.
Dental Related Bruxism – : Occlusal bite splint, occlusal restorative therapy or orthodontics may provide relief related to bruxism due to poorly aligned, worn or missing teeth.
Medication Related Bruxism - Your physician may be able to switch you to another medication to counteract your bruxism.
Ultimately this condition can lead to Temporomandibular Disorders of the Jaw. (TMD)