Bruxism

What is it?

  • Bruxism is excessive clenching and grinding.
  • It is not related to normal chewing and talking movement.
  • Bruxism can either occur during the day or at night whilst sleeping and can lead to excessive wear on the teeth, causing permanent damage to the teeth and jaw joints.

How is it caused?

Bruxism is a disorder of repetitive, subconscious contraction of the muscles surrounding the jaw joint. The cause of bruxism is currently unknown and still being studied. However, a combination of factors are believed to contribute to its cause:

  • Physical stress
  • Psychological stress
  • Mal-aligned teeth
  • Some medications

Signs and Symptoms

Although evidence of grinding can be seen visually due to the wear patterns on the teeth, most people don’t realise they are clenching or grinding as they may not experience any symptoms.

However, in moderate to severe cases, the following signs and symptoms can be associated with bruxism:

  • Pain in the teeth and sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Headaches caused by tense muscles around the jaw joint
  • Grinding noises, especially at night which can be noticed by partners, friends or relatives
  • Flattened or worn teeth
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Pain in the jaw joint

Management

After your dentist has diagnosed you and noted the location of the pain, the range of your jaw movement, any noises in the joint, your bite, tooth wear and movement of your teeth, you will be recommended treatment options based on your needs such as:

  • Stress management or relaxation methods for stress-related causes of bruxism.
  • Massage therapy or heat packs to reduce symptoms of tense muscles around the jaw
  • A night guard (also called an occlusal splint) that is custom fitted to your bite which will prevent further wear of the teeth.
  • Botox injections to relax the tense muscles around the jaw
  • A team-approach by your dentist and other professionals

A decision about the different management options should only be made after consulting with your dentist.

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