Bruxism, the clenching or grinding of the teeth, can cause jaw pain, ear aches, headaches, tinnitus, and damage to the teeth. While most cases are mild and do not cause these symptoms, bruxism can be an impediment to both good dental health and general quality of life.
Bruxism can occur either during the day or while sleeping. People who clench their teeth during sleep may not know there is a problem until someone else tells them - or until severe symptoms arise and the patient seeks treatment. Several factors affect the severity of the problem:
- Stress tends to exacerbate the condition
- Diet can either increase or decrease the severity of the problem
- Poor sleeping habits worsen clenching
- Misaligned teeth can cause the effects to be more severe
- Smoking and drug use are associated with bruxism
Once the problem is identified, bruxism is quite treatable. Your dentist is trained to identify signs of clenching and develop a treatment plan after diagnosis.
Treatment has several goals: to treat the symptoms caused by clenching, such as tooth damage and jaw pain; to stop the patient from clenching in the short term, by physically preventing the act; and to change the patient's habits in the long term, by stopping him or her from clenching. The following regimens are used to meet these goals:
- Crowns on the teeth can replace natural crowns if necessary
- The dentist may prescribe a dental guard, which protects the teeth from one another
- In severe cases, Botox may be applied to weaken the muscles responsible for clenching
- Dietary supplements can reduce gastric problems
- Biofeedback techniques, such as a biofeedback headband, may be used to to train the body to stop clenching
- Stress reduction techniques, such as yoga, meditation, or behavioral therapy, may reduce the occurrence and severity of bruxism
Depending on the severity of the condition, some or all of these treatments may be applied. Taken together, these techniques are effective at reducing or eliminating the occurrence of clenching.
About the Author
Dr. Steffany Mohan is the Owner of Plaza Dental Group and is a leading dentist in Des Moines, Iowa. Dr. Mohan is an expert in implant, pediatric, gum disease and cosmetic dentistry, is Invisalign certified and has gained a reputation of excellence in the dentistry community. Google+