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Bruxism in Belmont

Bruxism refers to an oral parafunctional activity which occurs in most humans at some point in their lives. The grinding of the teeth and the clenching of the jaw are the two main characteristics of this condition, which can occur either during the day or at night. Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders and causes most of its damage during sleeping hours. The clenching and grinding which accompanies bruxism is symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex, which is turned off in non-sufferers when sleeping. For sufferers, deep sleep or even naps, cause the reflex nerve control center in the brain to turn off, and the reflex pathways to become active.

Bruxism is Frequently Misdiagnosed

Typically, the incisors and canines (front 6 upper and lower teeth) of opposing arches grind against each other laterally. This side to side action puts undue strain on the medial pterygoid muscles and the temporomandibular joints. Earache, depression, headaches, eating disorders and anxiety are amongst the most common symptoms of bruxism; which often accompanies chronic stress, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol abuse.

Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear. Only a trained professional can tell the difference between bruxing wear and wear caused by overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks, and abrasive foods. A BiteStrip ® is an economical device used to diagnose bruxism at home. The device itself is a small electromyography which senses and monitors any activity in the jaw muscles during sleep. The frequency and severity of the condition can then be assessed and the best treatment plan can be formulated.

Treatment Options for Bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available. Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:

  • Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep. Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage, damage to the temporomandibular joint and help to stabilize the occlusion.
  • NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth. The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.
  • Botox ® – Botox ® can be injected into the muscles to relax and weaken them. Botox ®is an excellent treatment for bruxism because it weakens the muscles enough to prevent the grinding, but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.

Reasons for the Treatment of Bruxism

Here are some of the main reasons why bruxism should be promptly treated:

  • Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss; firstly because it damages the soft tissue directly, and secondly because it leads to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria can colonize and destroy the supporting bone.
  • Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.
  • Arthritis – In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (the joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).
  • Myofascial pain – The grinding associated with bruxism can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and debilitating headaches.

Treating Bruxism in Belmont

Bruxism, more commonly known as teeth grinding or clenching, is estimated to affect up to 40 million Americans of all ages. Because this clenching and grinding are often unintentional and unnoticed, bruxism can cause damage to teeth and gums long before it is diagnosed and corrected. Regular visits to your dentist can help to identify the signs of bruxism and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Your dentist at Belmont Dental Group can help you manage and maintain your dental health through regular checkups, tooth cleaning, and the treatment of cavities and gum disease near Belmont. Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education and biofeedback mechanisms. When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.

Diagnosing and Treating Bruxism

Bruxism causes premature wear on the teeth and stresses the gums, often causing receding gums and tooth sensitivity. However, the true danger of bruxism lies in its difficulty to diagnose. Because the symptoms of bruxism closely mimic those of other dental conditions, it is often misdiagnosed or remains undiagnosed at all. Many people are not aware of jaw clenching and grinding because it happens at night, making it difficult for patients to identify as well.

Although treating the symptoms of bruxism will improve dental health, the key to long-term successful dental treatment for bruxism is through proper diagnosis of the condition by your dentist. The next step in bruxism treatment requires identifying a solution that addresses clenching and grinding to restore dental health. Some patients respond well to a single bruxism treatment, while others may need to try different treatments or combine many treatment options for the best results.

Restoration After Bruxism

Bruxism can cause widespread damage throughout the mouth over the long term, including damage to teeth and gums. Once bruxism is brought under control, there are many dental restoration options available to restore the health and appearance of your smile.

  • Porcelain veneers and crowns can restore the shape and structure of teeth that have been chipped or worn through bruxing.
  • Dental bonding can also be used to lengthen teeth that have been worn shorter by clenching and grinding.
  • Treatments for receding gums include scaling and root planing to remove plaque from deep gingival pockets, as well as gum grafting surgery or gum tissue regeneration treatment to replace lost tissue and restore the look of the gums.
  • Severely damaged teeth may require root canal treatment and a crown to restore their function. If teeth have been lost due to bruxing, dentures or dental implants can replace them for a full and healthy smile.

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