Grinding and Bruxism

Use neuromodulators for medical reasons

Protect your teeth from bruxism

You may not be familiar with the term bruxism, but you're undoubtedly familiar with the behavior.

Bruxism is the grinding or clenching of teeth. Many of us do it without even realizing; in fact, a lot of people do it in their sleep, which is called nocturnal bruxism.

Bruxism is a natural, involuntary phenomenon to optimize the bite and occurs throughout the animal kingdom, usually stops after eruption of primary dentition but recurs for unknown reasons in the adult dentition causing an altered facial appearance, a square face due to enlargement of the masseter muscles, and consequently decreased salivary flow and dry mouth.

The masseter, the cheek muscle that helps us chew, is one of the strongest muscles in the entire body.

Dental researchers say it can exert up to 600 pounds of force per square inch on the molar teeth.

It's a strong muscle and can have a big impact on jaw and mouth health.

Teeth and jaw clenching occur when you hold your mouth tightly in the same position, and it can have an ill effect on the jaw muscles.

They become sore and tired from overuse, and disorders can arise from long-term clenching. Teeth and jaw clenchers often develop chronic headaches because of the tension in the jaw.

Clenching is most often associated with stress, but it can also be exacerbated by habitual chewing on things, including gum, pencils, or pens.

Bruxers are encouraged to avoid chewing gum or becoming otherwise orally fixated on an object that will worsen their symptoms.

Bruxism is a leading culprit in many TMJ disorders.

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, which connects your skull and your jawbone.

Symptoms may include an aching face or jaw line, earache, locking of the joint preventing the opening and closing of the mouth, pain while chewing, especially with hard foods, clicking of the jaw in opening, damage to insides of cheeks, and tongue indentations.

Studies have shown that up to 70 percent of bruxism is triggered by stress.

People develop nervous, repetitive conditions during times of high stress that they use to relieve some of their tension.

Doctors say teeth grinding is part of the natural fight-or-flight mechanism within our body. When we are under stress, our shoulders automatically hunch up, our head moves slightly forward, and our teeth clench.

From there, a natural reflex is to grind the teeth together.

Teeth grinding effects can range from mild annoyances to serious problems that require a dental professional's attention.

The big concern among dentists is bruxism's cumulative effect over the years: loosening of teeth from the gums, fractured teeth, receding gums, excessive tooth wear causing tooth sensitivity, aching jaws, recurring headaches, tooth pain, developing jaw joint disorders, and enlargement of the jaw bones due to excessive pressure.

Teeth grinding occurs frequently during sleep and there are a number of sleep conditions tied to this behavior, including sleep apnea.

Apnea is a chronic disorder in which sleep is disrupted by pauses in breathing or shallow breaths.

The pauses can last more than a minute, and they're usually followed by a choking sound.

The condition is under-diagnosed because many people don't realize they have the problem.

Studies have found a high instance of bruxism among those with sleep apnea.

Almost a quarter of sleep apnea sufferers also grind their teeth while 1 in 5 people suffer from it.

Hyperactive people, including those with attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, have a greater incidence of bruxism than the general population.

Bruxism is common in children as well, especially those who suffer from ADHD.

Since many children still have their baby teeth, the grinding may not be an issue a dentist addresses.

Even when the child has flattened his or her baby teeth from excessive grinding, those teeth will be lost and adult ones will come in.

Many children naturally abandon bruxism as they age and physical or emotional problems from their childhood recede.

There are two forms of bruxism treatment. One tends to the symptoms of the disorder, while the other treats the disorder itself, trying to lessen the occurrence of symptoms.

Treatments for bruxism designed to reduce symptoms include applying moist heat to the face, chiropractic and physiotherapeutic treatments, use of muscle relaxants, bite adjustments and orthodontic treatments, reducing stress, drinking more water, getting more sleep, avoiding chewing gum or other objects, consciously relaxing the face and jaw throughout the day, avoiding alcohol (increases the urge to clench the teeth) and caffeine (which can make you jumpy and tense), using a night guard.

Night guards are the most popular conservative treatment.

They are mouth guards that are worn at night to guard against teeth grinding and are different from sport guards.

The idea is that people will continue to grind their teeth at night, but by using a mouth guard, they avoid damaging their teeth.

There are two types of night guards.

The first is a custom night guard made by a dentist, who will measure your mouth and teeth and build a guard to those specifications.

Custom night guards are often the smarter choice in protecting against bruxism, because they account for your unique mouth shape and circumstances and they have a hard and flat chewing surface to side on during grinding.

Potential complications of night guards include severe occlusal changes, changes in position of articulate disc, airway obstruction in sleep apnea patients, non-compliance, dental discomfort, and dry mouth.

You can also buy a non-custom night guard at a drug store.

These may fit less comfortably because they aren't designed with your mouth in mind.

Still, they shield the teeth from the worst of the night grinding.

In comparison with oral splints, botulinum toxins are equally effective on bruxism, based on studies, and are safe for otherwise healthy patients.

They can reduce the frequency of brutish events and pain levels.

Potential complications from injection can be pain or discomfort at injection site, muscle ache at or near the injection site, and masticatory difficulties with hard foods.

Studies show that injections of botulinum toxin into the masseter muscle is an effective treatment of bruxism/grinding and up to 3-4 treatments are sufficient to manage enlarged masseter muscles and bruxism.

The Botox molecule is incorporated into the neuronal membrane, resulting in a longer lasting and permanent effect, and dose can be decreased in subsequent treatments to achieve the same effect.

A recent study concludes that botulinum toxin injection is an effective treatment for nocturnal bruxism.

The study, done on 1150 bruxism patients, shows curative effect on two-thirds of the patients with no side effects other than a slight diffusion to superficial muscle of the face resulting in a "fixed" smile for about 6 to 8 weeks, proving to be "an efficient treatment of with no lasting side effects."

Go to top

No more grinding

Do you struggle with bruxism?

If you suffer from bruxism, there is a solution using Botox or Xeomin treatment. The treatment is non-invasive, causes little pain, and shows real results. Come for a checkup and we will discuss your specific case to explain how this can work for you.