BRUXISM

by Dr. Nadia Abazarnia

What happens when a person grinds and clenches their teeth and how does it affect the anterior teeth?

Do you ever wake up from a night’s sleep with sore teeth and jaws? You could be grinding your teeth. Grinding your teeth is known as bruxism. This rhythmic clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth may develop at any age.

Teeth grinding is usual done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake. During the day, a person who is concentrating on a task will often place his teeth together and apply force through a contraction of the jaw muscles.

During sleep, it presents as clenching and rhythmic contractions. The most common symptom of teeth grinding is a headache other symptoms include muscle aches, enlargement of facial muscles, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) discomfort, stiffness of the shoulders and neck, ear pain and sleep disorders. The teeth are adversely affected and show abnormal wear and mobility. This leads to fracture and loss of teeth.

It is important to have your dentist evaluate you with a comprehensive exam and develop a treatment plan that is specialized for you. The best way to protect your teeth and prevent tooth wear and fracture is to wear an occlusal appliance. These are custom made, specially fitted plastic mouth pieces that fit over your top or bottom teeth.

Wearing one of these appliances will reduce jaw muscle pain and protect both your teeth and temporomandibular joint. The appliances are usually worn at bedtime and are considered the treatment of choice.

SIGNS & SYMPTOMS of BRUXISM

  • excessive tooth wear, which flattens the occlusal (biting) surface.
  • tooth fractures, and repeated failure of dental restorations (fillings, crowns, etc.)
  • hypersensitive teeth, caused by wearing away of the thickness of insulating layers of dentin and enamel around the dental pulp
  • inflammation of periodontal ligament of teeth, which may make them sore to bite on and possibly also a degree of loosening of the teeth.

How dose Clenching and grinding affect anterior teeth

The anterior (front) teeth show severe tooth wear which has exposed the dentin layer (normally covered by enamel). The pulp chamber is visible through the overlying dentin. Tertiary dentin will have been laid down by the pulp in response to the loss of tooth structure. Multiple fracture lines are also visible and can lead to cracking and chipping of these teeth.

The treatment of choice in these cases are wearing an occlusal guard at night time and restoring these teeth with composite resin material (tooth color material), in severe cases full coverage crowns are the treatment of choice.

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