Signs and Symptoms
The main signs and symptoms of a bruxism problem are:
- Biting surfaces of the teeth become flat and worn
- The biting surfaces become sensitive to cold fluids and sugars
- Tension and tenderness in the muscles surrounding the jaw and in the TMJ
- Waking in the morning with headaches, and occasionally associated neck or jaw pain
- Disturbed sleep patterns
What To Do?
Step One – Awareness
- Become aware of the problem
- Attempt to decrease stresses in life
- Begin a soft food diet
- Cut food up into small pieces
- Loosen jaw muscles with exercise
- Heat pads on the jaw muscles
- Ensure teeth are not touching when falling asleep and when waking up
Step Two – Appliance intervention
- If the tooth wear persists, however no muscle or joint pain is experienced, a soft night guard can be constructed to protect the teeth during the night.
- If muscle and joint pain persists with or without tooth wear a ‘hard’ night guard or splint should be constructed. This acts as a ‘crutch’, stretching the muscles and preventing them from bruxing the teeth.
If pain persists a combination of analgesics and muscle relaxants maybe required.
Factors that increase the risk of Bruxism (and erosion)
There are several factors which increase the risk of future wear and damage from bruxism.
- Medications – including antideppressants and stimulants. Certain types are known to trigger bruxism as well as reducing saliva causing a dry mouth.
- Dry Mouth – Lack of lubrication from saliva increases the potential for tooth wear. This can be a result of dehydration, excessive alcohol, caffeine and certain medications.
- Acidity in the Mouth – This can occur from a high intake of fruit juice, wine, cola, soft drinks, sport drinks or stomach reflux.
- Stress and Anxiety – This can lead to increased levels of bruxism and reduced saliva.
- Exposed Dentine – This is softer than enamel and wears at a quicker rate.
The Treatment Process
- Occlusal appliance therapy – may be used to take pressure off the jaw joints and teeth.
- Modified diet – to minimise chewing and rest the jaw.
- Avoid extreme jaw movement – ie. Yawning, chewing etc.
- Physiotherapy – exercises, massage, gentle movement etc.
- Warm or cold packs – by applying cold or warm packs, muscle relaxation can be achieved
- Relaxation and stress management – learn how to relax and lessen stress.
- Medication – in some cases short term medication may be recommended.
Tooth Grinding Treatment Time
In some cases the treatment may take up to several months to be effective.