Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity which commonly occurs with most people at some point in their lives. The main characteristics of this condition is grinding the teeth; another closely associated parafunctional activity is clenching of the jaw. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day.
Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are headaches, facial muscle soreness, tooth soreness or pain,and tooth wear with possible chipping or fracture.
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
Gum Recession – Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding teeth can damage the soft tissue directly and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.
Facial Pain – Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and, in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
Occlusal Trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which if left untreated, may require restorative treatment at a later time.
Arthritis – In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.
Though there is no one cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services available from our office to help treat bruxism.
Mouthguard – A hard acrylic mouthguard, or nightguard, can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep and help continually contracted muscles relax. Mouthguards are expected to be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage. Customized mouthguards are made by Dr. Fischer and are specific to the patient’s “bite”. Over-the-counter mouthguards are not recommended as they are not specific to the patient, and may be more harmful than good.
NTI-tss Device – This device only covers the front teeth and must be fitted at our office. The idea behind the NTI-tss is to prevent grinding the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle in the jaw. These devices are not intended to be worn by the patient continuously or for long periods of time.
Often as a companion treatment for chronic bruxism, dental procedures may be recommended which can range from recontouring the chewing surfaces of posterior teeth (equilibration) to multiple crowns which reshape and reposition the back teeth as they come together. Detailed diagnostic and treatment planning is required to determine the best means with which to treat dental bruxism.