WHAT IS BRUXISM AND CAN I FIX IT?

WHAT IS BRUXISM AND CAN I FIX IT?

BRUXISM is excessive teeth grinding or jaw clenching, and causes tooth wear and breakage, jaw disorders, and headaches.

WHAT IS BRUXISM?

Healthy teeth are a vital component to your comfort and well-being.  If you have bruxism, however, your teeth are at risk of erosion and pain.  This condition is a neuromuscular disorder that causes excessive jaw clenching and/or teeth grinding.  Jaw clenching can cause debilitating facial muscle pain and discomfort around the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or in the case of teeth grinding, can cause attrition, the wearing away of tooth structure to where the biting surfaces of teeth become flat, and to the point that the yellow layer under the enamel (dentin) shows through or even becomes exposed.

HOW DO YOU TREAT BRUXISM?

Treatment for bruxism revolves around repairing the damage to teeth that has already occurred.  However, it is important to treat bruxism before dental restorations so that they can be long lasting, because in the case of teeth grinding, the materials used in fillings, crowns, and the like, are rapidly worn away.  At ConfiDental Costa Rica, our expert dentists have helped many patients who brux achieve good results, both by providing the highest strength materials and by treating the disorder itself.   For starters, we take into consideration these two things:

  1. Protecting your teeth from the strong vertical forces of grinding, which can cause them to break, crack, become sensitive, cause you pain, and prematurely yellow, and in addition may cause your gums to recede.
  2. That you may have obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) and should be screened for this potentially life-threatening condition.

The ConfiDental team can provide you with a high-quality custom-made night guard, and while that is important for protecting your teeth from wear, it is not a permanent solution to protect your grinding muscles and jaw joints from damage.  And if it is determined that you have Sleep Apnea, your bruxism can be made worse by inhibiting your ability to push out your lower jaw, in turn preventing the airway from opening.  This results in effectively choking you and causing you to grind harder and more frequently from the need to breathe, not to mention compromising your sleep.

Bruxism is a common condition that may affect as much as 8–31% of the general population.  It tends to decrease with age, with the highest prevalence during childhood and the lowest in people over 65. It should be noted that many people clench or grind their teeth on occasion, but only a small percentage of people do so with such severity and regularity that they develop dental problems.

SEVERAL SYMPTOMS COMMONLY ASSOCIATED WITH BRUXISM ARE:

  • Hypersensitive teeth to heat and cold
  • Pain and/or stiffness in jaw muscles
  • Earaches & headaches (particularly in the temples and upon waking)
  • Fatigue upon awakening
  • Tooth wear, particularly flattening of the biting surfaces
  • Tooth fractures
  • Damage to dental restorations (e.g. crowns and fillings)
  • Cheek and/or lip biting
  • A burning sensation on the tongue
  • Enlarged muscles that move the jaw
  • TMJ pain and/or clicking in the joint

Symptoms may be minimal, without the patient being aware of the condition. The causes are not completely understood, but probably involve multiple factors.  Treatments may include:

  • Occlusal splints *
  • Stress management
  • Behavior and habit modification
  • Medication
  • Botox
  • Biofeedback
  • Bite adjustment
  • Night guard

* Splints can be either partial or full-coverage, depending on whether they fit over some or all of the teeth.   A splint is worn all the time, while a night guard is worn only during sleep. 

DID YOU “BRUX” YOUR TEETH TONIGHT?

Bruxism and anxiety can become a vicious cycle.  Whenever clenching occurs during the deep stage of sleep, the brain wakes up and moves to a lighter stage of sleep.  Getting the right amount of deep sleep is important, and when that doesn’t happen, it means that a person who already has anxiety problems is going to feel even more anxious. And when you’re anxious, grinding and clenching can become worse


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