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  • TMD

    Bruxism is a condition where a person clenches or grinds teeth. It  can occur in both adults and children while asleep or while awake under stress. If left untended and untreated, bruxism can lead to permanent irreversible damage of the teeth and jaw joints.

    CAUSES

    • Anxiety and tension from psychological stress
    • Bodily stress from nutritional deficiencies, illness, and dehydration
    • Unusual anatomy of teeth or jaws (for example, an improper bite) can lead to grinding habit


    SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

    Symptoms vary from person to person and are affected by the length, occurrence, and strength of bruxism behaviour. Common signs and symptoms may include:

    • Pain, sensitivity and discomfort of the teeth
    • Facial and jaw pain
    • Headaches without aetiology
    • Grind/Clench sounds (often noticed by partner)
    • Worn tooth surfaces
    • Damaged tooth enamel
    • Chipped or broken teeth
    • Loose teeth
    • Radiating pain to ear and head



    In order to receive appropriate treatment, your dentist will have to make diagnosis on the basis of:

    • Location of stiffness in muscles or pain
    • Range of movement in the lower jaw
    • Noticeable noise in the jaw joint
    • Tooth wear, movement of your jaw and your bite
    • Your dentist may also check if your bite is correctly balanced by taking moulds of your teeth
    • X-ray examination
    • Completion of a questionnaire to assess how symptoms affect your quality of life


    BEFORE TREATMENT

    Ensure that you provide your dentist with your complete medical and dental history including allergies, previous treatments, psychological stress/illness, and a list of all medications you’ve taken and are presently taking (both prescribed and over the counter).

    TREATMENT

    The treatment of bruxism can be multifaceted and may involve one or a combination of the following:

    • Removing the causes of grinding
    • Change behaviour that may result in clenching while at stress
    • Repair any damage caused by bruxism
    • Prescription of painkillers such as anti-inflammatory for facial and jaw joint pain
    • Prescription of muscle relaxant medication to help relax the jaw muscles

    CHANGING BEHAVIOR

    The aim of bruxism therapy is to teach the patient to identify when and how to best relax the mouth and may involve:

    • An occlusal splint (or night guard) which is made of hard moulded plastic, is worn at night and prevents the patient from causing further wear to their teeth surfaces
    • Biofeedback is typically used by those experiencing bruxism during the day and involves the use of electronic monitors to measure tension in the jaw muscles. The feedback given by the monitors allows patients to recognize when they are clenching and teaches them how to reduce the tension
    • Those with severe bruxism may need to use a combination of an occlusal splint and biofeedback
    • Some may require muscle relaxant medication at night


    REPAIR OF DAMAGE TO TEETH

    Dental treatment such as fillings, crowns and inlays may be necessary to repair damage to teeth surfaces. For damage which extends to the tooth pulp, root canal therapy may be necessary. In extreme cases, where teeth are badly damaged, teeth may need to be extracted. Orthodontics can be a good option for some, to correct poor bite and realign teeth to their correct position.

    Your dentist will be able to determine which treatment method is best for you and if any dental treatment is required to fix damaged teeth. If you think you may be suffering from bruxism, contact the friendly team at ToothCare to book an appointment to discuss the most suitable treatment options for you.

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