Treatment of bruxism, joint and problems of chewing (tightening – grinding of teeth)
Bruxism (clenching or grinding of teeth) is a very common alteration in the population today, as it is closely related to stress and anxiety. The bruxists tighten or rub their upper and lower teeth, an involuntary habit especially at night.
In the union of the roots of the teeth with the bones of the jaws there are pressure sensors that prevent us from exerting too much force when closing the mouth to avoid damaging teeth, muscles or temporomandibular joint problems. However, these sensors do not protect us during periods of unconsciousness (such as when we are asleep). That is why, during the night, we can grit our teeth and even more strongly than during the day.
Bruxism causes, over time, major wear and tear on the teeth with dental health issues, muscle, head and neck pain, and can damage the TMJ (joint that allows us to open and close the mouth).
The conventional procedure consists in the placement of a night discharge splint. It should be noted that in many low-cost franchise-type clinics it is called a discharge splint for thermoplastic vacuum plates, which are very economical but do not help the treatment of bruxism and its associated problems.
In Padrós Dental Clínic we go further. We study in depth the origin of the problem and treat it in an integral way. If we are experiencing incipient bruxism, we can prevent its evolution with the use of our comfortable rigid discharge splints, with soft overflow in the interior and adjusted with custom articulators. If the case is more advanced, the procedure may require therapy with our physiotherapist, occlusal adjustment, orthodontics, intramuscular relaxants, repositioning plates, etc.
In addition, we are pioneers in the application in our country of the system Dros-Konzept, (a procedure in several steps of muscle relaxation and treatment of bruxism ATM).
Frequently asked questions about bruxism, tightening and grinding of teeth
What is bruxism?
Bruxism, also known as tooth grinding or tooth clenching, is the third most common sleep disorder (after snoring and sleeping), both in adults and children. It is a problem that occurs in people of any socio-economic level and in both sexes. Today, statistics show that one in four people suffers from bruxism. The percentage in young children is between 15% and 38%, while in adults it is between 5% and 20%, causing a reduction of health in those affected.
What are the causes?
Most grind their teeth when they are under stress and anxiety. Misalignment of the teeth can also cause it. Lack of teeth can also cause misalignment and, therefore, bruxism. Babies and children squeeze their jaws and rub together when the first teeth are coming out, because their gums are hurting them. Others are accustomed to the circular movement of the jaws when they have a pacifier in their mouths and, when it is withdrawn, they continue with that movement. Ear pain can also cause some children to grind their teeth. Overactive children and adults are more likely to grit their teeth.
As you can see there are many possible causes and finding it can be very difficult, especially if it is related to stress and anxiety. That is why most dentists recommend the use of dental protectors to protect the teeth from further damage and gain in dental health.
What are the signs and symptoms?
Basically, they can be divided into two different categories: signs and symptoms in the body or in your daily life. Let’s look at each category in detail separately. However, both can be experienced together.
Signs and symptoms in the body
Audible squeaks at night
Often it will be the couple or the parents who observe the signs of gnashing of teeth. Often the sound of teeth is heard as they squeak while the person is asleep. This is sometimes described as a chirping or scraping noise. It may be strong enough to wake someone from their sleep, although not usually the victim in the early stages of tightening.
Appearance of teeth
This sign can be diagnosed by a basic examination at the dentist. The teeth will have a more flat appearance, compared to the normal cusps, concavities and edges present in healthy teeth. Signs of tooth grinding are also noticeable in the enamel (the hard layer on the surface of the teeth) in the form of scratches, splinters or even cracks.
In severe cases, all the edges of the teeth have become flat and smooth. Of course, a tooth is made of very hard material, and it takes a long time until the marks are visible. It could be the case that in the early stages other signs such as pain, tooth sensitivity or sensitivity in the jaw and muscles.
The day after
These are the first signs that will often alert patients of their habits upon awakening. Nighttime bruxism can cause you to wake up with health problems such as headaches and neck pain, ear pain, facial pain, pressure on the jaw or pain in the cheek caused by the contraction of the muscles of the jaw.
Another problem that may arise is a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. This occurs due to the tension and stretching of the muscles around the jaw, causing inflammation and swelling. This will cause the pain around the jaw joint to sometimes affect the ear as well. Some who experience this problem chronically can suffer from hearing loss, although it only occurs in extreme cases.
Those who suffer from grinding of the teeth may also suffer from tooth sensitivity. The pain is particularly felt when eating or drinking something hot or cold. If your teeth are exceptionally sensitive to heat and cold, it could be because the enamel on the surface of the teeth has worn out due to bruxism.
Wounds on the inside of the cheeks
During subconscious bruxism there is the possibility of biting the inside of the cheeks. If we observe marks of bites and scratches in cheeks and / or tongue we have clear signs of nocturnal tightening.
The signs and symptoms in your daily life
Habits and behavior patterns
In addition to physical manifestations, the disease also has an impact on your daily life. Habits and behavior patterns such as chewing on the nails, chewing the inner surface of the cheek, holding objects such as a pencil in the mouth, are all ways in which the body tries to release stress and anxiety.
In most cases, these actions are subconscious. Therefore, the damage accumulates without the patient being aware of it, which is why the diagnosis is made too late. People with these habits have turned these actions into an automatic way to mitigate stress and are not aware of the damages caused as a result.
Lack of sleep
Grinding of teeth can lead to disturbed sleep patterns, leaving the victim tired and stunned the next morning, unaware of the cause. Although not fully aware of this, patients may wake up at night either because they may unconsciously hear the clenching noise or because they are suffering from muscle strain. The constant loss of sleep quality will lead to other social and health complications, such as depression, accidents and strained relationships.
Eating Disorders and Indigestion
When these problems of dental tightening arise, they can also cause difficulty in chewing and eating food. Pain and discomfort when eating can cause you to miss meals or eat less than usual. If the teeth are sensitive or worn and can not chew properly, indigestion may appear.
Anxiety, depression, tension and stress have also been cited as signs of bruxism, possibly due to other symptoms such as pain, discomfort and lack of sleep.
When you experience a number of grinding teeth signs, this can often lead to increased stress and tension. This can lead to serious anxiety and depression disorders, creating a vicious circle of nervousness and pain.
Medical research has shown that people who are depressed are more likely to grind their teeth than other people. This is why it is so important that those affected find the source of their anxiety and stress.
Should I wear a toothbrush or splint during the night?
The first line of defense, once the grinding of teeth is diagnosed, is a good dental protector. Regardless of what many advertisements say, mouth guards do not cure bruxism, they just avoid brushing one another with teeth. However, it is all that people who suffer from this problem need when they are under stress, once the stress disappears, so does the dental tightening.
The most important reason for using a dental protector as soon as possible is to avoid further damage to the teeth. Finding the underlying cause can take a long time.
There are many types of dental guards on the market. They differ in the quality of the material and in the comfort that they provide. But the best mouth guards are the ones that are custom-made for each patient in a dental clinic. Ask us without commitment and improve your dental health.