What is Bruxism?

  • Posted on: Feb 21 2015

Bruxism is the medical term referring to the grinding of teeth or the clenching of jaws. It’s a condition that affects many people though not many are aware of the problem. You can clench and grind without knowing it. Bruxism often occurs during sleep though it can take place any time of day.

The cause of bruxism is not widely agreed upon but stress, anxiety, and competitive temperaments may all contribute. The condition can worsen under extreme or continual stress.

Clenching the teeth puts pressure on the muscles, tissues, and other structures around your jaw. Some people clench their teeth and never feel symptoms. Others experience a variety of symptoms or impacts including:

  • Headaches
  • Increased temperature sensitivity
  • Facial pain
  • Dislocation of the jaw
  • A popping or clicking in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)
  • Damage to the inside of the cheek
  • Chipped or cracked teeth
  • Wearing away of tooth enamel

Severe clenching and grinding can cause more serious TMJ problems.

Our team will examine teeth and jaws to look for evidence of bruxism and help diagnose the condition. Often bruxers – those who clench and grind – flatten the tips of teeth among other warning signs. Through regular visits and check-ups, we can assess whether or not certain signs and symptoms are present and monitor whether or not they change over time.

So how is bruxism treated?

The goal of treatment is to reduce pain, prevent permanent damage to the teeth, and reduce clenching as much as possible. To relive pain, try one of these self-care tips:

  • Apply ice or wet heat to sore jaw muscles
  • Avoid eating hard foods like nuts and candies
  • Drink plenty of water every day
  • Try to get plenty of sleep
  • Massage the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and face
  • Relax your face and jaw muscles often
  • Reduce daily stress through breathing techniques, yoga, even meditation

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Specific treatment varies by individual and so our dentists will help determine which course of action is right for you. In most cases, treatment will include a mouth guard or mouth splint to reduce impact and prevent damage. A dental guard may help protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching and help reduce tooth abrasion. Dental splints are usually made of plastic and fit over some or all of the upper or lower teeth. They are typically worn during every night’s sleep on a long-term basis.

Most cases of bruxism are successfully managed and often treatable. We’re here to help and we specialize in TMJ so give us a call for a consultation.

Published by: Grand Rapids Dentistry Blog – A Life of Smiles
A Grand Rapids, Michigan based cosmetic, general & sedation dentistry

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