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Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)



Bruxism is clenching or grinding your teeth. Most people are not even aware that they are doing this. Some people grind their teeth only during sleep. This is called "sleep-related bruxism." Others grind or clench their teeth during the daytime as well. This behavior or habit is thought to be related to stress or anxiety. Stress can occur for many reasons, including sad and painful events such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. It can also occur from joyous events such as a new job or the birth of a baby.

Bruxism or teeth grinding can have a variety of causes. Some experts view bruxism as nothing more than a habit. It also can be a result of the body's reaction when the teeth do not line up or come together properly. teeth grinding also can be a symptom of certain rare diseases of the nerves and muscles in the face. In rare cases, bruxism may be a side effect of some medicines that treat depression. These include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil (paroxetine).

People with severe bruxism can break dental fillings or damage their teeth. Rubbing the teeth together can cause the outer layers of enamel to wear away, exposing dentin. This can result in tooth sensitivity. Severe bruxism also has been blamed for:

  • Some cases of jaw dysfunction, also called temporomandibular disorders (TMD)
  • Headaches when you wake up in the morning
  • Unexplained facial pain

Symptoms
You may be a bruxer if you experience any of the following:

  • Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
  • A grinding sound at night, which may disturb the sleep of someone who shares a bedroom with you
  • A dull morning headache
  • Jaw muscles that are tight or painful – This can make it uncomfortable, even painful, to open your mouth wide, especially in the morning
  • Long-lasting pain in the face
  • Damaged teeth, broken dental fillings and injured gums
  • Painful jaw joint
  • Swelling (occasionally) on the side of your lower jaw caused by clenching. Chronic clenching exercises the jaw muscles. Like lifting weights, this makes the muscles grow larger. Once you stop clenching, the muscles will shrink and the swelling will go away.
  • Diagnosis
    If you experience any of these signs and symptoms, Call us today to schedule an appointment. Dr. Akinbi can determine if you are a bruxer and how best to treat it. She will ask about your general dental health, what sources of stress you have in your life, and what medicines you take. If you share your bedroom, Dr. Akinbi may also want to talk to that person. She will ask about your sleep habits, especially about any unusual grinding sounds heard during the night.

    Dr. Akinbi will perform a brief examination, paying special attention to the muscles in and around your jaw. She will look at your teeth for evidence of grinding. During this examination, She will check for tenderness in your jaw muscles and the jaw joint. Dr. Akinbi will look for broken teeth, missing teeth and poor tooth alignment.

    A more detailed exam may follow if she suspects that your bruxism is related to dental problems. In addition to checking your "bite," (how your upper and lower teeth come together) Dr. Akinbi will examine your teeth and gums for damage caused by bruxism.  X-rays of your teeth and jaws might also be taken as part of the evaluation.

    Reasons for the treatment of bruxism

Here are some of the main reasons why bruxism should be promptly treated:

  • Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss. It damages the soft tissue directly and leads to loose teeth and deep pockets, where bacteria can colonize and destroy the supporting bone. 
  • Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.
  • Arthritis – In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (the joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).
  • Myofascial pain – The grinding associated with bruxism can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth.  This can lead to debilitating headaches and muscle pain in the myofascial region.
Treatment options for bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available.  Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:

  • Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep.  Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help to stabilize the occlusion as well as prevent damage to teeth and to the temporomandibular joint.
  • NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth.  The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.
  • Botox® – Botox® can be injected into the muscles to relax and weaken them.  Botox® is an excellent treatment for bruxism because it weakens the muscles enough to prevent grinding but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.

Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education, and biofeedback mechanisms.  When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts, and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.

If you have questions or concerns about bruxism, please contact our office.

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