Bruxism (Teeth Grinding)

Bruxism is characterised by excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth and typically includes clenching of the jaw. It can lead to wear on the teeth which may cause permanent damage to both the teeth and the jaw joints.

What is clenching and grinding?

Clenching is when a person tightly clamps their upper and lower teeth together, especially the back teeth.

Grinding occurs when a person grinds their bottom jaw either back and forward, or sideways across their upper jaw.

These are both forms of bruxism and these activities can occur during the day or at night. When a person is sleeping there is no conscious control over excessive clenching and grinding and this makes it a difficult activity to prevent.

The causes of bruxism are still being studied; many of them are a combination of both physical and psychological factors which may include:

  • Psychological stress, anxiety and tension
  • Physical stress, illness, nutritional deficiencies
  • Abnormal anatomy of the teeth or jaws

Common signs and symptoms of bruxism include:

  • Chronic facial pain and tension headaches
  • Broken or chipped teeth
  • Pain and sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Loose teeth
  • Flattened, worn surfaces of the teeth which may reveal underlying yellow dentine
  • Stiffness/pain in the jaw joint muscles, sometimes restricting opening and chewing
  • A 'grinding' noise which may be noticed by friends, family or partners
Your dentist will be able to accurately diagnose bruxism and will prescribe a corrective treatment based on clinical examination and your medical and dental history.

Counselling, stress management or relaxation methods may also be recommended in conjunction with dental treatment. It is imperative to identify and address the issues triggering bruxism. Treating bruxism will involve removing the issues creating the problem, which may require behavioural changes as well as dental treatment.
An occlusal splint is an option which not only relaxes the jaw muscles, but also stops further damage to the teeth, as the splint is worn away rather than tooth surface. Splints are worn at night and are made from moulded plastic that fits over the upper and lower teeth.

We custom make the splint to perfectly fit each individual mouth, providing a comfortable and secure fitting. Dental fillings, crowns, or inlays can replace damaged tooth surfaces. In more severe cases, root canal treatment may be required where tooth fractures extend into the pulp.

Botox treatment for bruxism - how Botox can help

While it is a challenge to reduce the causes that promote this muscle activity, it is easy to reduce its frequency and potency with the use of Botox (Botulinum Toxin A).

Over recent years, Botox has proven to be an extremely effective solution for the treatment of bruxism. Botox when used correctly stems the clenching and grinding habit without any side effects.

The Botulinum toxin provides dentistry with an effective tool to control the extra capsular causes of TMJ (tempromandibular joint disorder) which reduces the excessive clenching and grinding process.

Pain is a large component and symptoms are exacerbated by external factors such as fatigue, stress, and emotional extremes. For those patients in pain, Botox is the first part of a treatment plan, to establish normal muscle tonicity. This is then followed by the issue of an occlusal splint, braces or other therapies to limit the muscles from reversing to their chronic painful state.

The commonly injected muscles are the masseter muscle and the temporalis muscles. Local injection of Botox type A in these muscles constitutes an innovative and adequately efficient treatment method for chronic facial pain associated with hyperactivity of the masticatory muscles.

An improvement and alleviation of the painful symptoms can be expected in up to 90% of patients who do not respond to conservative treatment methods.