Teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism, is a common habit and occurs most often when a person is experiencing anxiety or stress, and mostly happens involuntarily during sleep. The grinding/clenching habit can cause a variety of dental health problems.
The dental professionals at Platinum Dental Care can examine and diagnose and offer several options to combat teeth grinding and clenching and to protect your teeth and jaw joints. We can also digitally scan your teeth at dental examinations which can accurately read tooth wear and any progression. This new technology is unique to our practice.
Common causes of teeth grinding and clenching include:
What are the signs you grind your teeth?
Many people do not even realise they grind or clench their teeth, as it occurs most often when we sleep. There are common symptoms to look out for if you suspect you may be clenching or grinding your teeth involuntarily which include tooth wear, sensitivity, jaw joint and muscle pain and regular headaches. Similarly, if your jaw feels tight or sore after you wake up, it may be an indication of grinding and clenching.
Consequences of tooth grinding and clenching
Grinding your teeth can cause serious dental issues, such as tooth wear, sensitivity, tooth fracture and even tooth loss.
How can I stop grinding and clenching my teeth?
There are several different options available to prevent clenching and grinding. Your dentist will suggest the correct devices or treatments depending on your individual needs.
Tooth clenching and grinding can be the result of anxiety and stress in daily life. By reducing stress, you can reduce the frequency of tooth grinding. Certain strategies, such as therapy, meditation and exercise may be effective in reducing stress.
Additionally, avoiding stimulants like caffeine can reduce anxious tendencies and decrease the frequency of tooth grinding. Alcohol, which inhibits our responses, also has been shown to increase teeth grinding in individuals.
A night guard or splint is a custom made removable device that partially or fully covers the teeth in a single arch to help prevent clenching and grinding and prevent further damage/ symptoms to your teeth, muscles and jaw joint. A night guard/ splint is made of a special polymer material that will be strong, easy to clean, and comfortable to wear. However, like anything new, they do take some getting used to. With daily cleaning and care, a custom mouth guard/ splint can last from three to five years and provide daily tooth grinding and clenching prevention. However, if you feel your mouth guard is worn or less effective, you may need to replace it sooner.
SCi (Sleep Clench Inhibitor) splint
An Sci splint is a hard, sectional oral appliance that is placed over the lower or upper front teeth to reduce overloading of the muscles involved in clenching or grinding habits, by eliminating contact of the back teeth and allowing the muscles to relax. SCi splints are a more effective solution for sufferers of clenching and TMD (temporomandibular disorder) and studies have found that these splints significantly reduce muscle activity in 80% of patients helping reduce grinding and clenching habits. This treatment is not a cure for TMD but significantly reduces pain and aches in the head, face muscles and jaws, as well as preventing further tooth wear. This splint can only be used at night time and can be used in combination with Botox injections in the masseter muscles if these muscles are painful.
A Michigan splint is a custom - made oral appliance that covers and adapts to all the teeth in either jaw and can be used for patients suffering from teeth grinding and tooth wear. It is manufactured from a hard resin and is designed to be flat and of an optimal thickness to help spread the bite forces. This reduces tension in the facial muscles and the jaw joint and prevents further tooth wear.
This splint is also worn at night - time, however, we recommend that patients use it for an hour or two in the day to become used to it.
Botox for Masseter muscles
The masseter muscle is a large facial muscle that runs from the cheek bone to the lower part of the jaw and is attached to the TMJ (Temporomandibular joint or jaw joint). It is the key muscle the moves the lower jaw upwards. Individuals that clench or grind their teeth will overwork this muscle, which will make the muscle larger and potentially cause symptoms such as aches or pain.
Botox injections directly into the masseter muscles are an option to help reduce the size of this muscle and any related symptoms. They are safe and extremely effective for those patients that are suffering from pain from this muscle. The injections are generally pain-free and the appointment time is approximately 30 minutes. It takes up to six weeks for the Botox to work and to see and feel a significant difference, and the effects will wear off in approximately 3 to 4 months.
This treatment is often combined with splint therapy.
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