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Teeth Grinding and Clenching

What causes teeth grinding (bruxism)?

The exact cause of teeth grinding or clenching is not known. Teeth grinding can be impacted by several factors including stress, environmental changes, movement disorders, periodic limb movements (PLM), and general lack of suppression of muscle activity (similar to sleep talking or sleep walking). One common misbelief is that the position of your teeth, or a misaligned jaw can cause grinding and jaw pain. Experts in the field do not believe this to be true.

If you find that the only symptom you are experiencing is grinding of your teeth, the goal is to fabricate a custom fitted mouth-guard which will protect your teeth from being ground down and damaged. However, if pain or jaw locking is associated with the teeth grinding causing you discomfort, we recommend a comprehensive evaluation with Dr. Nojan. He will perform a comprehensive evaluation and create a customized treatment plan to manage all the aspects of your discomfort, including protecting your teeth and eliminating the jaw pain, jaw locking and associated headaches.

What symptoms or side effects are associated with teeth grinding?

Teeth grinding, known officially as bruxism, is often associated with excessive and uneven wear on the top surfaces of your teeth. This wear on your teeth can make you more susceptible to broken dental fillings and crowns, as well as tiny fissures and cracks which may reach the nerve inside your teeth (causing you to need a root canal). Over time, the continual grinding of our teeth can cause the roots and attachment of your teeth to your bone to become loose and weak, potentially leading to tooth loss. There also appears to be a strong correlation between patients who report frequent teeth grinding and various TMJ disorders, as well as headaches.

How is teeth grinding (bruxism) treated?

In order to properly begin treatment for bruxism (also known as teeth grinding), a comprehensive evaluation must be done to determine and eliminate any underlying causes.

  1. Many patients benefit from the use of uniquely designed mouth-guards which are made to stabilize the jaw and cushion the teeth. A mouth guard reduces muscle pain, joint locking, headaches, while simultaneously protecting your teeth. Mouth guards to treat bruxism must be custom-made for each individual patient using comfortable, state-of-the-art materials and design techniques. This allows for the mouth-guards to be incredibly comfortable, and not interfere with normal sleeping patterns.

  2. If your sleep bruxism is very severe, botox© can be injected into your jaw muscles to temporarily weaken the jaw muscles and decrease the clenching forces on your teeth. Not every patient is a good candidate for botox©, and a thorough evaluation by a TMJ expert such as Dr. Bakhtiari prior to receiving botox© is highly recommended. Botox© remains off-label for TMJ disorders and bruxism and may include some rare side effects (including a decrease in jaw bone density, and unwanted esthetic changes to your face). To determine whether you are a good candidate for botox©, book a consultation with our office today.