Bruxism is excessive, unconscious teeth grinding. It tends to happen at nighttime, in your sleep. Bruxism is thought to be caused by stress and tension. For most people it is only temporary and stops when the stress has passed. However, long-term teeth grinding causes permanent changes to the teeth and chewing apparatus. The teeth get worn down and become more sensitive, and the occlusion (bite) is altered. It also causes changes in the periodontium (the supporting structures of the teeth) and in the temporomandibular (jaw) joint. You may feel tension and fatigue in your chewing muscles, especially in the morning, pain in the area of your jaw joints, or headaches. The patient often does not notice that they are grinding their teeth, someone else usually points it out.
Treatment of bruxism
If you suspect that you are grinding your teeth you should contact your dentist immediately – in order to prevent further damage and to repair any that has already been done.
Treatment involves the following:
- Relieving stress – although this is no simple task given the pace of modern life
- Making a special mouth guard which cushions the forces between your teeth and prevents grinding.
- If the teeth have suffered significant wear, restorative treatment will be needed in order to reconstruct your bite.
At the dental surgery a silicone guard will be made from an impression of your teeth which you will wear in your mouth at night-time to prevent further jaw pain and wear to your teeth.
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