What is Bruxism?
Bruxism, also known as tooth grinding, is the condition of forcefully sliding the chewing surfaces of the bottom teeth over the chewing surfaces of the top teeth, generally in a sideways, back-and-forth movement. Bruxism is often accompanied by clenching which is tightly clamping the top and bottom teeth together. People who grind and clench their teeth are referred to as bruxers.
Why is Bruxism a Problem?
Over time the complications of teeth grinding may cause permanent damage to the teeth and uncomfortable oral and facial pain. During sleep the force of bruxing can be up to six times greater than normal waking biting pressure, approximately 250 pounds of force per square inch, and last for up to 40 minutes per hour of sleep. The complications include:
Damage to the teeth
Broken fillings and other dental work
Worsening of jaw joint problems
Limitation or difficulty in jaw opening and closing
Who is Affected by Bruxism?
While approximately equal numbers of men and women brux during sleep, more women clench their teeth during the day. As many as 20% of adults and 18% of children brux while awake and 8% do so while they are asleep.
What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
Symptoms of bruxism include:
Pain or discomfort around the ears when yawning or chewing
Jaw muscles that are tight or painful, especially in the morning.
Dull morning headaches
Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles.
Teeth grinding, which may be loud enough to annoy a sleeping partner.
How is Bruxism Treated?
There is no cure for bruxism, instead the condition is managed.
The first step is to have an examination by your dentist. During this exam, your dentist will check for tenderness in your jaw muscles, as well as for any dental and gum tissue abnormalities and damage caused by bruxism.
Generally, as a first, and sometimes only step, the pain and discomfort is alleviated using a custom fitted nightguard. We take an impression and custom make your nightguard in the office.