Countless people from the Cedar Park, Texas area and throughout the US suffer from habitual teeth grinding, a condition also referred to as “bruxism.” Although this may sound like a relatively harmless problem, it can lead to not only damaged teeth but a general decline in overall health as well. Fortunately, there are a variety of teeth grinding treatment options available, several of which we will discuss in this article. But first, let’s briefly look at ways in which bruxism can negatively affect people who suffer from this condition.
Problems Caused by Teeth Grinding
Generally speaking, there are two forms of bruxism: sleep or nocturnal bruxism, and awake bruxism. People with nocturnal bruxism grind and/or clench their teeth while asleep, and those with awake bruxism engage in the activity while they’re awake. Both forms can take a toll on both your oral and overall health, resulting in the following:
- Sore, tight, and/or tired jaw muscles
- Pain in the neck and face
- Interrupted sleep
- Tooth pain
- Flattened, loose, chipped, or cracked teeth
- Wounds on the inside of the cheek
Teeth Grinding Treatment Options
People develop bruxism for a variety of different reasons, ranging from stress to genetic predisposition to sleep disorders to unhealthy personal habits (smoking, drinking alcohol, or taking recreational drugs, for example).
So often the most effective way to treat the symptoms of bruxism is by treating the root cause. What follows are some of the most effective teeth grinding treatment options.
- Mouth guards – These devices are actually a type of occlusal splint that is custom made by a dentist and worn at night by people suffering from nocturnal bruxism. Mouth guards prevent the patient’s teeth from grinding together at night, thus reducing the amount of damage to the teeth and guarding against the patient biting the inside of their cheeks. Mouth guards also reduce the amount of strain on the wearer’s jaw, which helps to relieve bruxism-related headaches and other pain occurring in the face, neck, and jaw.
- Stress-reduction – One of the most common causes for bruxism is stress, so it makes sense that many people who grind their teeth can benefit from a variety of stress-reduction methods. These include meditation, yoga, counseling/talk therapy, and getting regular physical exercise. Although it may take some time for these techniques to work, once a patient can reduce the amount of stress they encounter in their daily lives, the sooner they will experience a reduction in their bruxism symptoms.
- Biofeedback – Over the past few decades, an increasing number of people have benefited from biofeedback sessions designed to help them become more aware of their unwanted behavior and eliminate it from their lives. This technique involves a biofeedback therapist showing the patient how to control movements of the jaw muscle using feedback generated by electromyography.
- Reductive/additive coronoplasty – Some people grind their teeth because of dental problems like crooked, misaligned, or crowded teeth. Reductive coronoplasty is a dental procedure that levels the biting surface of the patient’s teeth by either reducing the height of the teeth (reductive) or building up the teeth (additive).
- Botox – Recent studies have shown that Botox injections may be helpful in reducing the frequency of teeth grinding and reducing the associated painful results of bruxism. It should be noted that Botox injections should only be considered by patients who are in good overall health, and this treatment may not be the right choice for everyone.
- Tongue and jaw muscle exercises – If the patient’s bruxism is caused by misalignment of the jaw, certain exercises may be helpful in establishing and maintaining a healthier, proper alignment. These exercises are usually best demonstrated by a physical therapist, then repeated on a regular basis by the patient at home.
- “To-dos” and “not-to-dos” with bruxism – If you grind your teeth, there are some behaviors that will help alleviate your symptoms and others that will make it worse. Avoid eating hard foods (popcorn, hard candy, and nuts, for example) and don’t chew gum or eat sticky foods that are hard to chew. If you experience pain in your jaw or neck, try using a hot compress or ice pack to help alleviate the pain. And if you have nocturnal bruxism, make sure your head and neck are supported by pillows while you sleep. Avoid smoking, taking recreational drugs, and drinking too much alcohol or caffeinated beverages, all of which make bruxism symptoms worse.
- Hypnosis – Although some people may look at hypnosis with more than a bit of skepticism, countless people around the world swear by the benefits of it. And, in fact, it has been shown to be an effective treatment option for some patients with bruxism. If you choose this treatment, make sure that your hypnosis sessions are conducted by a qualified trained therapist or a health professional in a clinical setting.
If you suffer from teeth grinding, whether at night or during the day, it’s important to do whatever you can to remedy the problem. If you don’t, it can lead to a variety of other problems, including TMJ disorder, dental issues, and sleep deprivation. All of these can have a negative effect on your overall health, both in the short term and the long term. If you believe you suffer from bruxism, talk to your doctor or dentist as a first step in resolving the problem. Often, the best way to begin is by understanding why you grind your teeth to begin with. Remember that bruxism can be caused by any one of a variety of different reasons, and choosing the most effective treatment method requires understanding the root cause of the problem to begin with.
Whatever the cause may be for your bruxism, nearly all patients who grind their teeth at night can benefit from wearing a mouth guard. These custom-made devices have been shown to be very effective at protecting teeth and soft tissue inside your mouth, as well as guarding against any injury that might be done to the inside of the cheek while the patient is asleep. For more information about night guards and other teeth grinding treatment options, contact your Cedar Park, Texas dentist today.