The Tooth About Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is a common oral condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are the grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw. Grinding and clenching usually occurs while a person is sleeping and occasionally while awake.

Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. It is thought that during sleep, the subconscious process may become active while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches and headaches, increased tooth pain and sensitivity, jaw, neck or face pain and soreness. And while we don’t completely know what causes Bruxism, it is likely due to a number of psychological, genetic and environmental factors. Stress, anxiety, medication and substance use, mental health and medical conditions can all contribute to Bruxism.

Should I seek treatment for Bruxism?

Gum Recession – Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding teeth can damage soft tissue  and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.

Facial Pain – Grinding shortens the teeth and can lead to facial muscle pain and headaches.

Broken Teeth – The abnormal wear patterns on the chewing surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which if left untreated, may require restorative treatment.

Arthritis – In the most severe cases, Bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.

Bruxism Treatment Options

Custom sleep guards are a long term solution and can prevent damage from teeth grinding during sleep. Additionally, Botox, widely known for smoothing facial wrinkles, can be injected into the muscles responsible for bruxing (clenching). Botox treatment works by disabling these muscles enough to prevent grinding and clenching incidents while not disrupting normal functions like speaking and chewing.

Are you experiencing facial pain or headaches? Smileboston can help. Call 617-277-4100 to schedule an appointment.