Teeth Grinding (Bruxism) Night Sleeping Guards

Bruxism is a condition where a person clenches the jaw or grinds the teeth. The word “bruxism” is a Greek word that means “gnashing of the teeth.” The condition can range from very mild and non-problematic to severe and causing more severe problems. Many people grind their teeth at night and do not know. Most people will have the condition even if mild at some point during their lives. Damage to the teeth requiring bridges, crowns and root canals can occur as well as more pervasive health issues such as TMJ, hearing loss and damage to the jaw.

The cause of the condition is unknown, however, doctors feel that it can be caused by stress, an overbite, development of the mouth (children), diet, sleep cycles, another disease such as Parkinson’s disease or a side effect of medications. Many people do not know that they have bruxism until many years after the habit has begun. The disease is called a habit since it a repetitive movement that is not considered unconscious. Some symptoms to help determine if someone has the disorder are:

  • Painful or sore jaw area
  • Headache
  • Eating disorder
  • Facial pain
  • Misalignment of the bite pattern
  • Depression
  • Earache (possibly causing TMJ)
  • Stress or tension
  • Difficulty with sleep cycle
  • Depression or anxiety
  • Indentations on the tongue
  • Tissue that has been chewed on the inside of the cheek
  • Worn tooth enamel that looks flattened or chipped
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Teeth grinding noise especially audible to others

[AD336] Treatment involves non-invasive remedies such as avoiding alcohol and caffeine, warm compress or ice, massage trigger points, stretching, reduction of stress, avoiding hard foods and drinking plenty of water. If the problem becomes pervasive, a dentist can make a mouthguard or splint. A mouthguard is a dental appliance that is constructed usually from plastic that is inserted to the mouth to cover the gums and teeth.  A mouthguard will prevent a patient from grinding his teeth at night and ward off TMJ, tooth damage, etc. Some mouthguards are even used to correct the patient’s bite pattern which might be causing the bruxism. Alternatively, a dentist may use overlays and crowns to correct a patient’s bite. Botox is also being used for the condition as it can weaken the muscle on the jaw that controls the grinding action. It is fast and virtually pain-free. Many patients have reported success with the technique. Alternative therapy treatment is also available in the form of biofeedback. With sensors measuring physiological response to teeth grinding, practitioners are able to help a patient change his habits. In some cases, a muscle relaxant may also be prescribed.