Bruxism is extreme clenching or grinding of the teeth. This can occur in both adults and children during sleep or while awake. If left untreated, bruxism can lead to permanent damage of the teeth and jaw joints.
Bruxism can be caused by:
- Physical stress such as nutritional deficiencies, illness, and dehydration
- Anxiety, tension, and psychological stress
- Abnormal anatomy of the teeth or jaws can lead to bruxism behaviour
However the signs and symptoms vary for each patient and are affected by the duration, frequency, and strength of bruxism behaviours. Common signs and symptoms may include:
- Pain and sensitivity of the teeth
- Facial and jaw pain
- Grinding sound (often noticed by sleeping partner) when teeth are ground together
- Worn tooth surfaces
- Damaged tooth enamel
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Loose teeth
In order to receive correct treatment of bruxism, one of our experienced dentist will make an accurate diagnosis on the basis of:
- Location of stiffness or pain
- Range of movement in jaw
- Noticeable noise in the jaw joint
- Tooth wear, movement of your jaw and your bite
- Your dentist may also:
- Check if your bite is correctly balanced by taking moulds of your teeth
- X-ray examination
- Completion of a questionnaire to assess how symptoms affect your quality of life
The treatment of bruxism can be multifaceted and may include
- obtaining your medical and dental history including allergies, previous treatments, psychological stress/illness, and a list of all medications you’ve taken (both prescribed and over the counter).
- Removing the causes of bruxism
- Change behaviour that may result in bruxism
- Repair any damage caused by bruxism behaviours
- Prescription of painkillers for facial and jaw joint pain
- Prescription of muscle relaxant medication to help relax the jaw muscles
The aim of bruxism therapy is to teach the patient how to best relax the mouth and may involve:
- An occlusal splint (or night guard) which made of hard moulded plastic, is worn at night and prevents the patient from causing further wear to their teeth surfaces.
- Some may require muscle relaxant medication at night
Dental treatment such as fillings, crowns and inlays may be necessary to repair damage to teeth surfaces. Orthodontics can be a good option for some, to correct poor bite and realign teeth to their correct position. Your dentist will be able to determine which treatment method is best for you and if any dental treatment is required to fix damaged teeth.