BRUXISM is unintentional chewing and grinding of the teeth, which are caused by sudden contractions of muscles of mastication and jaw clenching. Rubbing lower teeth against the upper teeth can cause an unpleasant sound of grinding. This habit of bruxism might be influenced by psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety or tension.
Types of bruxism:
- Awake bruxism is strong teeth clenching during the daytime, caused by stress. It is compared to the expression of emotions that usually stays unnoticed.
- Nocturnal bruxism is unintentional and rhythmic teeth grinding during sleep. It usually manifests not by strong teeth clenching but by unusual movements of the lower jaw. Teeth are rubbing against each other with different surfaces and this causes the sound of grinding.
Untreated bruxism can have a harmful effect to the bite and can cause pathology of the lower jaw. When the biting surfaces of the teeth start to worn-down, the teeth look unaesthetic and become sensitive. Dental restorations (dental fillings, onlays) are also affected, they may serve for the shorter period of time. There are cases when teeth are abraded up to half of the crown or even gums. When cusps of premolars and morals become worn out, holes start to form on the chewing surfaces. If muscles of mastication are very active, several teeth can crack or break, the same can happen with the tooth crown. Long-term bruxism may cause tooth wedge-shaped defects. Then the teeth become sensitive for touching or cleaning with the toothbrush.
Treatment of bruxism:
- If bruxism is caused by malocclusion, bite correction is applied or improper high points of the teeth are polished. For more complicated cases, dental prosthetics may be renewed.
- Dental splints are plastic constructions, which are made individually, according to anatomical features of the teeth. They protect teeth, joints and muscles. Dental splints do not let teeth to come into contact. They are used at nighttime. Dental splits preserve the correct position of the jaws, relax the muscles of mastication and joint of the jaw. They help to protect joint surfaces from friction, avoid muscle pain, headache and earache.
- Botulinum toxin injections in muscles of mastication. This substance is injected into muscles by an extremely thin needle. It relaxes the muscles and the patient no longer clenches or grinds the teeth. If necessary, topical anesthetics can be applied on the place of injection before the procedure. Effect of the injections lasts for 3-4 months. Patients cannot clench or grind their teeth during that time, so it is possible that they will simply forget this habit. The procedure of botulinum toxin injection can be repeated, if teeth grinding starts again after treatment.