Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that affects most humans and is also classified as a sleep disorder. It is characterized by teeth grinding and jaw clenching that occurs during the day or at night. The grinding and clenching signifies a malfunctioning chewing reflex that is usually off in bruxism non-sufferers during sleep. For bruxism sufferers, the brain’s reflex nerve control center is turned off during naps or deep sleep while the reflex pathway is activated. The upper and lower incisors and canines grind against each other causing strain on the temporomandibular joints and the pterygoid muscles.
Common bruxism symptoms include; depression, headaches, anxiety, earache and eating disorders. These symptoms may be further accompanied by alcohol abuse, chronic stress and Alzheimer’s disease. Hence, bruxism is easily misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all because there are numerous tooth wear causes. Only a trained dentist or dental hygienist Lake Elsinore can differentiate between bruxing tooth wear and wear resulting from abrasive foods, acidic soft drinks and aggressive brushing. However, it can be diagnosed at home using a device known as a bitestrip. It is an electromyography device that monitors and senses any jaw muscle activity during sleep.
Why Treat Bruxism?
Tooth loss and gum recession: bruxism damages soft oral tissue directly, loosens teeth and affects deep pockets where harmful bacteria hide before colonizing and destroying bones. Hence, it is a main cause of tooth loss and gum recession.
Occlusal trauma: abnormal wear patterns on the chewing surface known as the occlusal causes tooth fractures that may require restorative surgical procedure to correct.
Arthritis: chronic and severe bruxism causes arthritis in the temporomandibular joints that allow the jaw to open effortlessly.
Myofascial pain: in the long run, grinding shortens teeth and makes them blunt. This in turn causes headaches and pain in the myofascial region.
Bruxism Treatment Options
Bruxism as no single document cure but there are effective tools and devices that alleviate the problem. They include;
Mouth guards: acrylic mouth guards are designed from a patient’s tooth impressions and are used to reduce the abrasive tooth surface action during sleep. They are worn on long term basis to stabilize the occlusion, prevent temporomandibular and tooth damage.
NTI-tss device: this is a device that must be fitted by a qualified Lake Elsinore dental professional. It covers the front teeth with the aim of limiting temporalis muscle contractions and in turn, preventrear molars from grinding.
Botox: botox is an injection tat weakens and relaxes muscles. It is effective at treating bruxism because it weakens muscles to prevent grinding but does not affect functions like speaking and chewing.
Other bruxism treatment options include; stress management education, relaxation exercises and biofeedback mechanisms. Dental procedure like crown lengthening, crowns and gum grafts are carried out to restore aesthetic appearance after bruxism is controlled.