Bruxism

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Bruxism Management Applecross

Many studies have been done on Bruxism and figures vary from 5% to 95% of the population grind their teeth! It can happen (mainly) during sleep or in some cases during waking hours.

Bruxism is the act of grinding one’s teeth together. This is not a new phenomenon – there are some 7 references for this activity in the Bible.

Indications for Bruxism

Unfortunately, most people are totally unaware if they grind their teeth. Only very few people can tell they do it. In some cases, family members are able to tell you if they hear it while you are asleep.

One sign is tenderness in the muscles of the jaw. Nocturnal grinding is like an 8-hour gym work out. Imagine doing bicep curls for 8 hours! How would your arm muscles feel and look? Probably large and sore! In the case of our jaws, our muscles can become very sore and create headaches.

It is often the case that people that grind their teeth also have other sleep disorders so specialised sleep studies may be required. If you also are a snorer and have sleep apnoea you could possibly grind.

The commonest sign of grinding is premature wear on teeth. Often this is seen in the form of chipping on the front teeth.

It may take a while for the thin enamel coat of the teeth to wear away but as soon as the softer dentine is exposed, the tooth will wear very quickly and may be noticeable to yourself or family and friends. Teeth may also look very small and a good comparison can be made by looking at old photos.

Example of teeth having been ground together

damaged teeth from grinding before
Damaged teeth from Grinding
damaged teeth from grinding after
Damaged teeth from Grinding

Causes of Bruxism

Again many studies have been done on the subject and it would appear that there is no one cause, but rather a variety of factors may contribute to it.

It would appear the greatest influence is stress but more recently it is thought the body may be trying to correct a discrepancy in the bite.

Effects of Teeth Grinding

Yes grinding teeth can significantly wear the enamel and even crack healthy teeth. Tooth wear is not a normal ageing process. Our teeth are much tougher than the food we eat, so if they are worn down, it is almost a certainty that it is occurring from grinding.

Some people who grind also have sensitive teeth, not only to hot and cold but also to brushing.

Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD or TMJ)

TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint and is the hinge that holds the bottom jaw anchored to the base of the head. It can be felt by placing your fingers in front of the ear canal and opening and closing the jaw.

TMD (temporomandibular dysfunction) is a condition where the actual jaw joint and or the muscles used for chewing are painful and the whole complex is not functioning in its proper manner. This can be quite unpleasant as it is a joint that moves constantly. It moves when we talk when we eat and when we swallow.

Many patients have clicking sounds from the joint when they open or close the jaw which can be caused by a small disc as it “pops” in and out of its socket. In some people, the joint may get stuck and they can neither open nor close their mouth. We term these symptoms as internal derangements of the joint.

These symptoms may be treated with special guards that clip onto the teeth to help hold the jaw in a position so that the disc can be repositioned into its correct place. Most cases are treated quite simply by exercises and avoidance of causative factors, especially in cases where the cause of the problem are the muscles of chewing. Giving the joint a rest, the same as resting any other bodily injury, by avoiding chewy foods or chewing gum can also give relief.

Position of the head and neck and the musculature associated with it is also thought to play a part. Once again postural exercises and becoming self aware are the only treatment needed.

In some cases the cause of the problem within the joint itself. Cases such as arthritis can affect this as much as any other joint in the body. Generally this is a medical area and treatments are via medications. Surgery is a last resort and it is carried out only when no other treatment is possible.

Teeth Grinding Solutions 

This depends on the extent that the teeth are ground. In most cases this is diagnosed early enough a protective guard that is worn at night is the only treatment needed. It is a cheap and simple process. Other treatments have side effects so they are rarely used.

In cases where grinding has been left to go on for many years, there may need to be a lot of reconstructive dentistry to build every tooth in the mouth to its original biting height. Keeping the bite at the correct height will ensure you do not put a strain on other teeth in the mouth that are not designed to take the new force. Maintaining the correct position of the bite will also help to not over strain your jaw joint (TMJ) and adjoining muscles.

Rebuilding the bite is very expensive dental treatment, certainly over $20,000 to correct. Needless to say, it is better to prevent with a protective guard than allow the teeth to get to that stage.

Bruxism Management in Applecross

If undiagnosed and untreated, bruxism may lead to long-term dental wear and damage – hence the need for further dental treatment to try to correct the damage caused.

If you or your loved ones suspect that you are a bruxer, please call your Applecross dentist and schedule an appointment.

To find out more about bruxism management in Applecross, please contact us today at (08) 9316 0555.

We are located at 729 Canning Hwy in Applecross WA.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is bruxism?
Bruxism, also called night grinding, is a condition in which a person grinds or clenches their teeth while sleeping.

Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders.

Most people have a mild form of night grinding at some point in their lives.

What causes bruxism?
Night grinding is often a result of stress and anxiety. Irregular alignment of the upper and lower teeth is also a common cause of bruxism.

It is important to break or manage the habit of grinding as soon as possible to prevent long-term damage to your teeth.

How do I know if I have bruxism?
Most people who grind their teeth are not aware they do so. Often, a loved one makes them aware, having to observe or heard the grinding during sleep.

Dentists look for signs of grinding by detecting dental wear and receding gumlines. Bruxism is most often the main cause of headaches.

The common symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Head and neck pain
  • Jaw or dental pain
  • Dental damage
  • Tooth fractures
  • Gum recession
  • Insomnia

If you grind your teeth or suspect to grind your teeth at night, come to our office for a consultation on bruxism management in Applecross.

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