Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that commonly occurs in most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw occuring during a person’s sleep and occasionally throughout the day.
As a sleep disorders, Bruxism occurs when the subconscious neuromuscular activity of chewing is active while the conscious aspect of chewing that’s controlled by the brain is inactive (asleep). The most common symptoms are earaches, headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
- Gum recession. Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding your teeth can damage soft tissue loosening the teeth and creating deep pockets that bacteria colonize, which can lead to decay in the supporting bone.
- Facial pain. Bruxism can shorten and blunt the teeth. Grinding your teeth can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. Bruxism causes abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth. Grinding your teeth can lead to fractures, which, if left untreated, may require restorative treatment.
- Arthritis. In severe cases, bruxism can lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints which are responsible for the jaw opening and closing smoothly.
Though there is no cure, there are a variety of devices and services available to help treat bruxism:
- Mouthguards. An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Mouthguards must be worn on a long-term basis to prevent tooth damage.
- NTI-tss device: This device only covers the front teeth and must be individually fitted. The idea behind the NTI-tss device prevents grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle in the jaw.
- Botox: Botox is injected into the facial muscles to disable then, which prevents grinding but doesn’t disrupt normal functions like speaking and chewing.