Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that commonly occurs in most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day.
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. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active, while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches, headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
A BiteStrip® is a device available through our office used to diagnose bruxism at home. The device itself is a small electromyography, which can sense and monitor activity in the jaw muscles during sleep. The frequency and severity of the condition can then be assessed and a plan of treatment can be determined.
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
- Gum recession. Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding can damage the soft tissue directly and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.
- Facial pain. Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which, if left untreated, may require restorative treatment at a later time.
- Temporomandibular joint osteoarthritis. 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.
- Obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). There are approximately 40 million people in the United States that have obstructive sleep apnea, with 90 % of those being undiagnosed. Moderate-to-severe bruxism has been shown to exhibit a co-morbidity with OSA.
Though there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of orthotic appliances and services available through our office to help treat bruxism. However, a comprehensive clinical and diagnostic evaluation must be performed in order to determine the specific type of appliance needed.
Once bruxing is under control, we can perform a variety of dental procedures to restore the pleasant aesthetic appearance to your smile such as gum grafts, crown lengthening, and restorative treatment.