Bruxism Treatment (Teeth Grinding & Clenching)
Occasional teeth grinding and clenching, medically called bruxism, does not usually cause harm, but when teeth grinding occurs on a regular basis, jaw disorders, headaches, damaged teeth and other oral health complications can occur.
In some cases, chronic teeth grinding and clenching can result in a fracturing, loosening, or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear teeth down to stumps. When these events happen, bridges, crowns, root canals, implants, partial dentures, and even complete dentures may be needed. Not only can severe grinding damage teeth and result in tooth loss, it can also affect your jaws, result in hearing loss, cause or worsen Temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD/TMJ), and even change the appearance of your face.
Although teeth grinding can be caused by stress and anxiety, it often occurs during sleep and is more likely caused by an abnormal bite, missing or crooked teeth.
The goals of bruxism treatment are to reduce pain, prevent permanent damage to the teeth, and reduce clenching as much as possible.
The following self-care steps to treat bruxism can be taken at home.
- Apply ice or wet heat to sore jaw muscles. Either can have a beneficial effect.
- Avoid eating hard foods like nuts, candies, steak.
- Drink plenty of water every day.
- Get plenty of sleep.
- Learn physical therapy stretching exercises to help restore a normal balance to the action of the muscles and joints on each side of the head.
- Massage the muscles of the neck, shoulders, and face. Search carefully for small, painful nodules called trigger points that can cause pain throughout the head and face.
- Relax your face and jaw muscles throughout the day. The goal is to make facial relaxation a habit.
- Try to reduce your daily stress and learn relaxation techniques.
To prevent damage to the teeth, mouth guards may help protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching. As a next phase, orthodontic adjustment of the bite pattern may help some people. Surgery should be considered a last resort.