Teeth grinding is also known as bruxism. Most people will grind and/or clench their teeth at some stage during their lives and this is often when they are under stress. Occassional teeth grinding doesn’t usually cause any damage and the majority of people won't require any treatment. However, some people who grind their teeth may damage their teeth or experience varying degrees of discomfort and will require treatment. The forces generated during teeth grinding can result in chipped, broken or loose teeth and fillings, severe tooth wear and tooth sensitivity. Teeth grinding can also result in damage to the jaw joint which is known as the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. Teeth grinding may cause abnormal tension in the muscles of the face that attach to the TMJ pulling the articulating surfaces of the joint out of position. The extra tension in the muscles may cause muscle pain, stiffness and even headaches. Damage to the TMJ may result in clicking noises from the affected joint. In very severe cases damage may result in the joint becoming locked or dislocated so the person is unable to open or close their mouth.
What is the treatment for teeth grinding?
1. Occlusal Splint - Dentists will usually construct an occlusal splint to protect your teeth. These appliances are made from hard plastic and are worn at night. The dentist will take impressions of your teeth which are sent to a dental laboratory to construct a teeth grinding splint to fit. The splint is then tried in the mouth. The biting surface of the occlusal splint is adjusted so the bite is even which means the load on the jaw joints is also even. Splints are generally constructed with a smooth surface which allows the teeth to move over the surface of the splint without interference. This relaxes the muscles and reduces pressure on the TMJ.
2. Stress Relief - In cases where stress may is identified as a cause for the teeth grinding, relaxation activities may be helpful.
3. Diet - A diet of soft foods will reduce pressure on the muscles and jaw joints.
4. Bite Adjustment - Interferences in the bite due to an abnormal bite or crooked or missing teeth may cause teeth grinding. The dentist may decide remove these interferences by adjusting the tooth surfaces or by placing restorations to align the teeth.
If you feel that you may be grinding your teeth please contact our friendly staff on (08) 9341 1022 to make an appointment for a consultation.