Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that commonly occurs in most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. These actions usually occur when a person is sleeping, but occasionally occur during the day.
Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active, while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism.
- Gum recession. Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding can damage the soft tissue directly and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and destroy the supporting bone.
- Facial pain. Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and in severe cases can lead to incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which may require restorative treatment.
- Arthritis. In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints restricting the jaw from opening and closing smoothly.
Though there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services available through our office to help treat bruxism including:
- Mouthguards. An acrylic mouthguard can be fabricated after taking dental impressions. This appliance can control grinding and clenching during sleep. Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
- Hawley biteplane: This appliance prevents any contact between the back teeth, thereby preventing excessive force on the back teeth.
- Botox®: Botox® can be injected into the muscles responsible for bruxing by disabling them enough to control severe grinding and clenching, but not enough to disrupt normal functions like speaking and chewing.
Once bruxing is under control, Dr. Lowe can provide a variety of dental procedures to restore a beautiful smile. Some of these procedures would entail crown fabrication, gum grafts, and crown lengthening.