Bruxism is an oral parafunctional condition that most humans experience at some point in their lives. It is one of the most common sleep disorders and can cause irreversible tooth damage without your knowledge.

This condition can be realized through teeth grinding or the clenching of the jaw which can occur during the day or at night. In most cases, the incisors and canines (the lower and front 6 upper teeth) of opposing arches grind together with a lateral motion.

This is caused by a malfunctioning chewing reflex which stays on during sleep for those with this condition but turns off for everyone else. Deep sleep and even naps can result in the reflex pathways becoming active, causing teeth grinding and jaw clenching.

Grinding and clenching puts strain on the temporomandibular joints and the medial pterygoid muscles which can lead to a wide range of symptoms including headaches, earaches, eating disorders, anxiety, depression, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol abuse.

Bruxism can be difficult to diagnose because the signs of wear on the teeth are similar to those caused by abrasive foods, acidic soft drinks, and aggressive brushing. A dentist can diagnose bruxism after a thorough examination of the teeth and jaw.

Why treat bruxism?

Bruxism is a serious condition that has serious side effects. If bruxism goes untreated for long enough, it can cause the following health problems:

  • Myofascial pain - Tooth grinding can gradually shorten and blunt the teeth, leading to debilitating muscle pain and headaches in the myofascial region.
  • Gum recession and tooth loss - Bruxism directly damages the soft tissue in the mouth and causes loose teeth and deep pockets in which bacteria can collect. Bruxism is one of the leading causes of tooth loss and gum recession.
  • Occlusal trauma - Excessive abnormal wear on the chewing, occlusal, surfaces of the teeth can result in fracture and may require restoration.
  • Arthritis - Over time, bruxing can cause arthritis in the temporomandibular joints, making opening the jaw painful.

Bruxism treatment options

There are many treatment options for those suffering with bruxism. One treatment option may be right for one person but unsuitable for another, so after a thorough examination, the Brooklyn dentist will recommend a treatment plan that fits the patient’s unique form of the condition.

A BiteStrip device can also be used to determine a patient’s best treatment options. This small device uses electromyography to detect activity in the jaw during sleep. The frequency and severity are then recorded and can be used by a dentist to formulate a treatment plan.

Some of the most popular treatment options for bruxism include:

  • NTI-tss device - After being fit over the front of the teeth by a professional, an NTI-tss device can limit the contraction of the temporalis muscle, preventing grinding of the rear molars.
  • Botox® - Botox® treatments relax and weaken the muscles enough to keep them from grinding but not enough to prevent proper speaking and eating functionality, making this an excellent option.
  • Mouthguards - Custom-made using impressions of the patient’s teeth, acrylic mouthguards can be used during sleep to minimize abrasive action on the tooth surfaces. Mouthguards should be worn to prevent tooth and temporomandibular joint damage on a long-term basis.

There are other treatment options such as stress management education, biofeedback mechanisms, and relaxation exercises that can be used as well. Once bruxing is under control, dental restoration procedures like crown lengthening, gum grafts, and crowns can restore the health, strength, and aesthetic quality of the patient’s smile.

If you have any questions or concerns about bruxism in Brooklyn, NY, or would like to set up a consultation with our dentist, please contact Brooklyn Dentist.