Posted on: 01 December, 2021
Since the Covid-19 pandemic began, dentists have reported an increase in the number of patients presenting with tooth damage as a result of bruxism. Also known simply as teeth grinding, bruxism is an involuntary action that can happen while you sleep or during the day.
3 minute read
Bruxism can have many causes including stress and is fairly common. While many people grind or clench their teeth occasionally, around 5% of Australians regularly and forcefully grind their teeth.
Bruxism isn't always a serious problem and can often go away on its own, but it can often also lead to dental problems, split teeth, aches and pains, or other conditions such as TMJ disorder. It may also be a sign of an underlying problem.
Read this short guide to find out more about what causes bruxism, how to recognise the signs and your options for bruxism treatment.
Bruxism may not be noticed if it happens during sleep, unless someone else sees or hears it. However, there are other possible symptoms that can be warning signs of bruxism or another problem. These include:
There is no single cause for bruxism. Teeth grinding and clenching may be related to a physical issue with the teeth or jaws, an emotional issue or medical reasons. Your risk factor for bruxism will be higher if:
Bruxism is more common in children than adults, particularly when the primary or secondary teeth are coming through or if they have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Talk to a children's dentist if you are worried about your child's symptoms.
Mild bruxism may not cause problems, but frequent and forceful grinding that puts the teeth and jaws under pressure may cause permanent damage or other problems that need treatment. Complications of bruxism can include:
A damaged or lost tooth or restoration is considered a dental emergency, as it may lead to further injuries or can leave the tooth exposed to infection without prompt treatment.
If you grind or clench your teeth, you also may not be a candidate for dental veneers or other cosmetic dentistry treatments until the condition can be managed or treated.
If you think you or your child might have bruxism, make an appointment with your dentist. They will ask about your symptoms and examine your teeth for signs of wear and damage.
They will then discuss appropriate treatments to address the cause and symptoms of bruxism, based on your individual situation. They may also recommend treatments for other problems related to bruxism, such as TMJ disorders or damaged teeth.
Depending on the cause of bruxism, treatment options may include:
If bruxism is stress-related, your dentist may be able to recommend relaxation techniques or they may refer you to a licensed and qualified health professional.
Therapies recommended for bruxism may include:
If you grind or clench your teeth at night, your dentist may provide a custom-fitted bite splint or night guard to wear over your teeth during sleep. This is similar to a mouthguard and prevents your teeth from coming into contact.
A bite splint can help to relieve bruxism symptoms and protect your teeth from damage, but it may not cure the condition altogether.
If your teeth or jaws don't come together normally, your dentist may discuss options for teeth straightening to treat bruxism and other complications of a misaligned bite.
Orthodontic treatments include metal or ceramic braces and removable aligners. Teeth straightening is a long term treatment that may take up to several years, depending on how much straightening is needed.
Your dentist may also recommend fitting crowns over teeth that have been weakened by grinding to protect them from further damage.
Teeth that have been too structurally damaged by teeth grinding may also benefit from being extracted and replaced. However, this is always a last resort for a dentist.
If bruxism may be a side effect of medication, a health condition or a sleep-related disorder, treating this underlying problem may also help to treat bruxism symptoms. Always talk to your doctor before making any changes to medications.
Some health professionals may recommend muscle relaxant medication or injections to help with bruxism symptoms, but there is currently limited evidence of their effectiveness.
You can lower your risk of developing bruxism or of the condition worsening by addressing the manageable risk factors. This could involve:
If you or someone in your family grind your teeth, book a consultation with our dentists at Mount Lawley Dental. We will diagnose the problem and tailor a treatment plan to address the cause and prevent further discomfort and damage.