Tooth Grinding (Bruxism) and Clenching Treatments
Bruxism represents an aberrant tooth grinding habit that affects most people at some points in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition include grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw. These actions tend to occur often during sleep, but occasionally during times of stress can persist throughout the day as well.
Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing represents a neuromuscular activity controlled both at a subconscious level and more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, subconscious processes may remain active, while higher control is inactive (asleep). The most common symptoms include sore aching jaw muscles upon rising in the morning, earaches, headaches and cracking noises in the jaw joints.
Why Should I Seek Treatment for Bruxism?
Chronic grinding can lead to pain in the jaw muscles and in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
-Tooth (occlusal) trauma.
Abnormal wear to the chewing (biting) surfaces can shorten and blunt the teeth. If left unchecked, excessive wear may require major restorative treatment to repair. Clenching in particular can cause teeth to fracture thus contributing to tooth loss.
In the most severe cases, chronic bruxism can overtime contribute to painful arthritis of the jaw (tempromandibular TMJ) joints.
It has been reported that bruxism may cause gums to recede and potentially, teeth to be lost. Grinding can damage the support to your teeth resulting in loose teeth, deepening pockets (below the gum line spaces)where bacteria can then colonize. If unchecked, the bacterial infection worsens, destruction of the supporting bone ensues and eventually teeth are lost.
Although currently no absolute cures exist for tooth grinding (bruxism), there are a variety of devices, pharmaco-therapeutic approaches, physiotherapy and related services available through our office to help treat TMJ – myofacial pain and bruxism;
Anti Inflammatory Medication
In the acute stage especially immediately following a traumatic event, anti-inflammatory medication in conjunction with other therapeutic approaches has proven helpful at reducing pain. Equally important, specific medications can reduce the debilitating effects of inflammation that can lead to chronic jaw joint and related neuro-musculature conditions. When employed at the appropriate stage, anti-inflammatory medication can lessen a patient’s symptoms while speeding recovery.
Dr. Novack and his trained staff will instruct you on oral physiotherapy techniques aimed at lessening your symptoms and speeding recovery. Dependent upon the specifics of your situation, these may include isometric and isotonic stretching exercises, hot and cold contrast packs and potentially massage. These techniques whether used alone or in combination with other approaches can significantly aid recovery, improve your range of motion, reduce the potential for your jaws to lock up thus enabling you to return to an improved quality of life.
Trigger Point Injections
Dependent on the specifics of your presenting TMJ and related musculature symptoms, trigger point injections may prove beneficial both in terms of diagnosis and thereafter, management. Trigger point injections have been shown in the appropriate instances to break up muscle spasms, provide relief from pain and hasten a return to a normal range of jaw motion.
Bite Plane-Orthotic Appliance
An acrylic bite plane appliance is custom designed from impressions of your teeth. The goal of such an appliance is to minimize the destructive grinding actions that tend to occur either during sleep or times of stress. A bite plane appliance is constructed with extreme precision and designed to guide your jaws and teeth to meet in a manner most harmonious with your jaw joint and jaw joint musculature. Smooth gliding surfaces are built into a bite plane appliance specific for your dental anatomy to ensure you are not locked into a pre-programmed position dictated by your teeth. A bite plane appliance has been shown to contribute to a reduction in grinding and the related symptoms of bruxism. Orthotic bite plane appliances are generally worn at night on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
Once your bruxism condition has been brought under control, in consultation with your restorative dentist, Dr. Novack can perform a variety of periodontal procedures to reestablish lost gum support by covering exposed tooth roots surfaces. Through these techniques, a healthy and aesthetic appearance to your smile can be restored. Dependent on the degree of tooth destruction (wear) that has occurred as a result of bruxism, crown lengthening procedures coupled thereafter with the placement of crowns and/or veneers on your teeth may prove necessary to reestablish the cosmetically pleasing smile and the function you once had.