70% of patients clench or grind their teeth which can increase tooth sensitivity, cause jaw and/or facial soreness, and create headaches. It is a serious condition that can cause pain in your jaws, teeth and musculature but can also damage expensive dental work. There are signs on your teeth that we can see that are characteristic of this problem—many patients do not believe they have this but unknowingly and unconsciously do it during their sleep. It is associated with stress, anxiety, unresolved emotional issues and tension. It is often cyclical.
An oral splint or nightguard may be custom fitted to your mouth. It is made of an outer hard acrylic and a softer inner cushiony material. It is case dependent if it is made for the upper or lower arch. By wearing the guard, you can prevent further damage to your natural structures and your dental restorations. If jaw sensitivity persists, there are specialists that we refer to insure that you get the expert care you need.
Some patients have problems wearing the nightguard. An additional consideration is to receive neuromodulator injections (Botox, Xeomin, or Dysport) in the jaw muscles to relax and reprogram the behavior. When done every 3 months for 3 consecutive visits, we often see a relieved patient with less symptoms. The doses can be spread out to every 4-6 months.
Bruxism is the medical term for grinding, gnashing or clenching your teeth. The
condition affects both children and adults.
Some people with bruxism unconsciously clench their teeth together during the day,
often when they feel anxious or tense. This is different from tooth grinding or clenching
that occurs at night, which is called sleep bruxism. Most children who are bruxers do so
at night, while adults are either daytime or nighttime bruxers.
Bruxism may be mild and may not even require treatment. However, it can be frequent
and severe enough to lead to jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other
problems. Unfortunately, people with sleep bruxism usually aren't aware of the habit, so they aren't diagnosed with the condition until complications occur. That's why it's important to know the signs and symptoms of bruxism and to seek regular dental care.
Signs and symptoms
The signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:
Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to wake your sleep
Teeth that are worn down, flattened or chipped
Worn tooth enamel, exposing the inside of your tooth
Increased tooth sensitivity
Jaw pain or tightness in your jaw muscles
Earache — because of severe jaw muscle contractions, not a problem with your
Chronic facial pain
Chewed tissue on the inside of your cheek
Doctors don't completely understand the causes of bruxism. For daytime bruxism, it has
been thought that abnormal alignment of upper and lower teeth (malocclusion) may
contribute to the problem, though this hasn't been confirmed in research studies. Sleep
bruxism is believed to be related to changes that occur during sleep cycles in some
individuals, and this is an active area of current research.
In adults, psychological factors seem to be associated with bruxism, including:
Anxiety, stress or tension
Suppressed anger or frustration
Aggressive, competitive or hyperactive personality type
In children, bruxism may be related to growth and development of the jaws and teeth.
Some researchers think children brux because their top and bottom teeth don't fit
together comfortably as they are erupting. Others believe that children grind their teeth
because of tension, anger, or as a response to pain from an earache or teething. While
bruxism has been reported to occur in up to 30 percent of children, often in children
under the age of 5, most children outgrow bruxism before they get their adult teeth.
In some cases, bruxism isn't caused by stress or dental problems. It can be a
complication of another disorder, such as Huntington's disease or Parkinson's disease.
It can also be an uncommon side effect of some psychiatric medications including
These factors increase your risk of bruxism:
Stress. Increased anxiety or stress can lead to teeth grinding. So can anger and
Age. Bruxism is common in young children, but usually goes away by
When to seek medical advice
Bruxism often goes unnoticed. See your dentist if you have worn teeth or pain in your
jaw, face or ear. Also consult your dentist if your bed partner complains that you make a
grinding noise while you sleep.
If you notice that your child is grinding his or her teeth — or has other signs or
symptoms of this condition — be sure to mention it at your next dental appointment.