Bruxism Treatment

Disclaimer

The information contained in or made available through this site cannot replace or substitute for the services of trained professionals in the medical field. You should consult a physician in all matters relating to your health, particularly concerning any symptoms that may require diagnosis or medical attention.

About Bruxism

Bruxism is clenching or grinding your teeth. Most people are not even aware that they are doing this. In the United States, bruxism affects about 30 million to 40 million children and adults.

Some people grind their teeth only during sleep. This is called “nocturnal bruxism” or “sleep-related bruxism.” Others grind or clench their teeth during the daytime as well. This is thought to be related to stress or anxiety. Stress can occur for many reasons, including sad and painful events such as the death of a loved one or the loss of a job. It can also occur from joyous events such as a new job or the birth of a baby.

Bruxism can have a variety of causes. Some experts view bruxism as nothing more than a habit. It also can be a result of the body’s reaction when the teeth do not line up or come together properly. Bruxism also can be a symptom of certain rare diseases of the nerves and muscles in the face. In rare cases, bruxism may be a side effect of some medicines that treat depression. These include Prozac (fluoxetine), Zoloft (sertraline) and Paxil (paroxetine).

People with severe bruxism can break dental fillings or damage their teeth. Rubbing the teeth together can cause the outer layers of enamel to wear away, exposing dentin. This can result in tooth sensitivity. Severe bruxism also has been blamed for:

  • Some cases of jaw dysfunction, also called temporomandibular disorders (TMD)
  • Headaches when you wake up in the morning
  • Unexplained facial pain

Bruxism Treatment Options

The treatment of bruxism varies depending on its cause:

  • Stress — If your bruxism is stress-related, your dentist or physician may recommend professional counseling, psychotherapy, biofeedback exercises or other strategies to help you relax. Your dentist may prescribe a medicine such as diazepam (Valium). This will be for short- term use, usually one week or so. It should be taken at night before you go to bed to help reduce grinding at night. You also may receive a prescription muscle relaxant to temporarily ease the spasm in your jaw. You may also be fitted for a custom-made bite plate. If this does not help, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon or to a dentist who has advanced training in head and neck pain.
  • Dental problems — If your bruxism is related to tooth problems, your dentist probably will correct tooth alignment. In severe cases, your dentist may need to use onlays or crowns to entirely reshape the biting surfaces of your teeth. The dentist also may make a mouth guard or bite splint that fits your mouth and teeth. This will help prevent further damage to the teeth. In some cases, it may help your teeth and muscles to realign.
  • Medicines — If you develop bruxism as a side effect of antidepressant medicines, you have a couple of options. Your doctor may switch you to a different drug or give you another medicine to counteract your bruxism.

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