Bruxism is an exaggerated clenching or grinding action of the teeth which is not part of your normal chewing function. It may lead to excessive wear on the teeth, damage to the jaw joints and surrounding muscles.

Some people may clench or grind during the day but commonly it occurs during sleep and people are unaware that they are causing damage to their teeth and joints. Studies report that 90% or more of people clench or grind their teeth in their sleep on a regulkar basis.tooth-wear

Causes of bruxism can be from a combination of physical and psychological factors such as nutrition deficiencies and dehydration, especially in children. Other causes include abnormal anatomy of the teeth such as prominent teeth which are bitten on first and harder than the rest of the teeth and bad bites were the teeth aren’t aligned correctly for example a cross bite. BUT the biggest cause is stress.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of bruxism is not solely confined to teeth, but may include:

  •  pain in teeth, including sensitivity to hot or cold
  •  facial pain and tension headaches, earaches or joint pain
  •  noise’s such as clicking or grating when asleep, this is usually noticed by your partner or friends
  •  flattened and worn tooth surfaces
  •  microfractures in the tooth enamel
  •  broken or chipped teeth or fillings
  •  loose teeth
  •  stiffness in the jaw joints, often limiting the degree of opening and thus affecting your ability to chewgrinding4

The symptoms of bruxism can vary widely and depend on the pattern of bruxing. People who clench their teeth may experience tension related headaches, but have very little wear evident on their teeth. Those who grind severely may have damaged their teeth and jaw joints, which can cause facial pain, tight muscles and limited movement of the joint.

The Diagnosis of Bruxism

Your dentist will diagnose your condition based on the location of your pain and stiffness, your range and limitation of jaw movements, audible joint noises and tooth wear as well as any tooth movement. To assist in the diagnosis your dentist may also recommend plaster moulds of your teeth and x-rays.

Treatment of Bruxism

Treatment is aimed to remove the cause of Bruxism, for example learning stress management techniques or by changing and modifying the behaviour that leads to Bruxism. This change or modification can be achieved with the use of what is known as an occlusal splint or night guard.

night-guard-4This splint is a moulded layer of thin hard plastic which fits over either the upper or lower teeth. The splint prevents further wear of the teeth amongst other factors. Biofeedback analysis can be used as well; it is the electronic monitoring of muscles to measure the tension in certain muscles and can help people learn how to relax those muscles.

Repair of Damage Caused by Bruxism

As far as repairing the damage that Bruxism has caused on the teeth your dentist may repair or change fillings or place crowns or inlays on the teeth to replace the lost or broken tooth structure. Root canal treatment may be needed for teeth that have been severely affected. To help with your occlusion or the way your teeth bite together your dentist may suggest partial dentures, bridges or implants which will replace lost or missing teeth and help to spread the load of chewing more evenly. Orthodontics can also realign misplaced or crooked teeth.


grinding3Talk to an Oral Experts dentist at your next appointment if you think you grind your teeth, have very sensitive teeth or get constant neck or headaches.

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