What is Bruxism?
Teeth grinding or ‘Bruxism’ is the involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth through repetitive jaw muscle activity. It is a common condition with up to 30% of the population being affected.
This is a subconscious behaviour done mainly while you sleep known as ‘sleep bruxisum’ Sometimes it is your sleep partner that tells you after being kept awake by your grinding! This is why it is normally your dentist or hygienist that will first see the wear on your teeth and inform you about your grinding.
You can also clench and grind your teeth when your awake, known as ‘awake bruxism’. This more common in women than men.
There are a few factors that can contribute to Bruxism including, stress and anxiety and anatomy of the jaw.
What is Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD)?
TDM is the second most common cause of facial pain, behind toothache. The name TMD refers to pain in the temporomandibular joint region (TMJ). As well as pain, you may experience other symptoms such as clicking-jaw and restricted opening.
What Impact Does Bruxisum Have on Me?
Bruxisum can cause a range of symptoms including:
- Tenderness or stiffness of the jaw muscles
- Tooth wear
- Broken teeth and recurrent fracture of restorations (such as fillings and crowns)
- Disturbed sleep from the sound of the teeth grinding
- Limited mouth opening
- Clicking and tenderness of the jaw joint
- Appearance of ‘square jaw’ as the jaw muscles are enlarged
What Are The Treatment Options?
We always start with the simplest and least invasive treatment first. This involves:
1) Jaw exercises. We can give you instructions for jaw exercises that may help to elevate any painful symptoms.
2) Mouthguards. We can take a scan of your mouth and make a custom-made night guard. These can be made with either hard or soft material depending on your needs. They can either be made for the upper or lower teeth. This mouthguards will help protect your teeth from damage and wear and manage your grinding habit.
3) Muscle Relaxant Injections. We can inject muscle relaxant into each side of the jaw. This is the same medication that’s used to relax muscles on the forehead and around the eyes.
This is a safe and effective treatment to relax the jaw muscles and prevent bruxisum. The effects are normally felt a few days after treatment and can last up to 3-4 months. Each time the treatment is done, the bruxisum lessens.
This can also result in ‘jaw slimming’ as the muscles reduce in size, ‘slimming’ the face. However, not to be confused with ‘jaw slimming’ treatment as often these injections are not performed in the same way and don’t penetrate deep enough into the muscles to stop the tooth grinding.
4) We can also offer dental laser treatment to relax the muscle. This works well after dental treatment when you’ve had to keep your mouth open for an extended period of time.
We use the laser externally on the joint after treatment. The heat from the laser relaxes the joint muscle and prevents it from going ‘stiff’ or ‘locking’.
If you suffer with TMD ask your dentist about the option of laser treatment after your dental treatment to prevent jaw pain afterwards.