What Is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a condition in which you grind, clench, or chew more so than usual. If you have bruxism you may unconsciously clench/grind your teeth either when you’re awake or when you’re asleep. Bruxism can lead to excessive wear on your teeth which may cause;

  • Permanent loss of enamel and tooth structure
  • Cracking and splitting of teeth
  • Damage to jaw joints

Excessive clenching/grinding is a very unhealthy action that can occur in both adults and children, and can occur at any time of the day or night.

What Causes Bruxism?

The cause of bruxism are still being studied, but it is believed that psychological and physical factors could be contributing to bruxism:

  • Sleep disorders
  • Stress, tension and anxiety
  • Illness, nutritional deficiencies or dehydration
  • Abnormal bite or jaw alignment
  • Missing or crooked teeth
  • Extreme exhaustion
  • Alcohol consumption or smoking cigarettes

Signs And Symptoms

  • Dull headache starting in the temples
  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake up your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Jaw, neck or face pain or soreness
  • Sleep disruption
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
  • Increased tooth pain or sensitivity
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles, or a locked jaw that won't open or close completely

Treatment For Bruxism

Treatment for bruxism revolves around repairing the damage to teeth that has already occurred, and via one or more of several available methods, attempting to prevent further damage and manage symptoms. Bruxism can cause significant tooth wear if it is severe, and sometimes dental restorations (crowns, fillings etc.) are damaged or lost. If stress is the cause of you grinding your teeth, ask your dentist about options to reduce your stress.

Your dentist can fit you with a mouth guard (known as an occlusal splint) that protects your teeth from grinding during sleep. An occlusal splint is custom made to fit over your upper teeth.

  • An occlusal splint evens out your bite, taking the pressure off your teeth. This may improve toothache or pain on chewing.
  • It opens your bite up so that it takes some pressure off your jaw joints and muscles
  • The therapy may encourage you to stop grinding or clenching.
  • It protects your teeth from further wear and may also protect against chipping and cracking of the teeth