Clenching, Tooth Grinding, and Bruxism
Clenching or tooth grinding disorders are quit common in today’s stressful environment. We call this condition bruxism and it is characterized by excessive forces being placed on the teeth from the conscious or unconscious squeezing or rubbing of your teeth together at night or during the day. Several causes of bruxism are stress, an active neurological pathway in the brain present from birth, a poor bite relationship caused by the way the teeth erupted in your mouth or because missing teeth have not been replaced, a sleeping disorder or due to a habit. Although many people are unaware of this behavior, these excessive forces can create a great deal of damage to your teeth, your jaw joints (TMJ’s) or the muscles of your head and neck area. These symptoms could include unnatural wear to your teeth, chipped or fractured teeth or fillings, loose or mobile teeth, headaches, neck aches, back aches, muscle spasms of your facial muscles, facial pain, clicking or popping in your jaw joints (TMJ), pain in your jaw joints (TMJ’s) when you function or arthritic changes in your jaw joints (TMJ’s). Many of these symptoms are not painful in their early stages but will result in the loss of teeth, painful muscles or extensive jaw joint (TMJ) pathology.
Dr. Strub can usually try to control your clenching or tooth grinding (bruxism) with dental appliances. These appliances are also called night guards, orthotic appliances, dental splints or occlusal splints. The appliance is designed so that it helps your teeth, your muscles and your jaw joints (TMJ’s) function properly and naturally with reduced stress and force on each individual structure. This helps reduce the damaging forces on your teeth, your muscles and your jaw joints (TMJ’s) and helps restore your mouth to a healthy condition. The appliance is made out of hard plastic that is somewhat softer than your natural teeth. This way it will absorb all the forces and protect your teeth from further wear or damage. It will also reduce any excessive muscle activity, which will reduce your grinding activity. The appliance is fitted to your lower jaw so it is less noticeable and very comfortable while you are wearing it. It takes considerable time and skill to adjust the appliance properly so you can be comfortable and symptom free.
Many times if your bite relationship has changed over time because of the excessive wear or damage to your teeth, you may also need to have your bite adjusted. This is called an equilibration. Dr. Strub can accomplish this by polishing some of your teeth so they fit together and function naturally. This reduces the stress on your muscles and jaw joints (TMJ’s) and removes any damaging pressure that is placed on your teeth during function.
Please contact Dr. Thomas J. Strub for more information, or to schedule an appointment. We will be happy to speak with you and answer any questions you may have.