Advice On Bruxism by Dr. Gregory Martin
Grinding or clenching your teeth? We can help!
Teeth grinding, or “bruxism”, is a frustrating dental condition that impacts a large portion of our society. Keep reading to learn a little more about this condition as well as how we are helping our dental patients overcome it without wearing night guards!
What is teeth grinding?
Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a condition in which you unconsciously clench your teeth or grind them back and forth. This can happen during the day or at night while you are sleeping, and it can cause a lot of damage to your teeth. It can also lead to migraine headaches, jaw pain, and even TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder).
Why do we grind our teeth?
There are many theories as to why we grind and clench our teeth. Most people suffer from this condition while they sleep although others experience it during periods of activity such as weight lifting or intense concentration. There are components of anxiety or psychological stress that may also cause teeth grinding. However, no matter what the source of dental clenching and grinding may be, it absolutely leads to the destruction of otherwise healthy teeth.
What are the symptoms of teeth grinding?
There are several clues that you may be grinding or clenching your teeth. Here are the most common signs of teeth grinding or clenching:
– You wake up with a headache or sore jaw
– The tops of your teeth are very flat
– The tops of your teeth are sensitive to temperature variations (i.e. cold or hot drinks are uncomfortable on the chewing surfaces of your back teeth)
– You have a very firm and square jaw line
– Your partner told you they heard you grinding your teeth while you were sleeping!
– Your jaw clicks, pops or dislocates when you open or close your mouth
Alternative to Night Guards
Traditionally, intraoral appliances such as night guards or occlusal guards have been the treatment of choice of dentists for bruxism. Unfortunately these removable appliances do not treat the source of the condition. They only protect the teeth from being damaged as a result of the grinding. We routinely use botulinum toxin, otherwise known as BoNT-A (Botox®) for maxillofacial therapeutic use. While you may be familiar with the cosmetic application of this drug, BoNT-A products are excellent products for dental therapeutic uses for reducing clenching and grinding. The best part is that the relief afforded to patients by BoNT-A neurotoxins can not only help eliminate headaches and facial pain and grossly reduce their TMD symptoms but in many cases it can in time serve as a substitute for a night guard!
How We Help
If you find yourself grinding your teeth or you can relate to any of the above symptoms, we would encourage you to schedule a consultation appointment with our office. Dr. Martin will look at the chewing surface of your teeth and palpate your jaw line to assess if your masseters feel larger or stronger than normal. Remember that you should ALWAYS avoid chewing hard objects like ice or hard candy. (This advice applies to everyone, not just clenchers and grinders)! If you are a true teeth grinder, we may encourage you to try Botox to release the tension and reduce the clenching in your jaw. Teeth grinding can be a serious problem if it’s not addressed. With the right treatment, you can free yourself from teeth grinding and experience the associated relief from not carrying tension and pressure in your jaw during all of your daily activities as well as during your sleep! We look forward to hearing from you!