Teeth grinding, also called bruxism, is a common sign of a temporomandibular disorder (TMD) and can go unnoticed until it causes damage to the teeth or painful symptoms begin to be experienced. Most patients grind their teeth during sleep and are unaware that they are doing so in many cases.
Dr. Ed Lazer, DDS, often notices the signs of teeth grinding when patients are examined during preventive care visits:
- Teeth that are worn, have chips or flat edges
- Worn tooth enamel
- Sensitive teeth
- Jaw pain or tightness in the jaw muscles
- Headache and/or facial pain
- Cuts or damage to the inside of the cheek or tongue
Since teeth grinding is often related to a malocclusion (an imbalance in the bite), Dr. Lazer will perform a thorough evaluation of the patient’s occlusal system in order to create a treatment plan that will bring long lasting and effective results. Teeth grinding can lead to complex dental problems including gum disease and tooth loss. It is important to correctly diagnose the underlying cause of teeth grinding to bring a patient’s occlusal system back into balance.
There are several types of treatment options for patients who grind their teeth and Dr. Lazer will take the time with each patient to create a personalized plan of treatment that is best suited to their dental health issues. In many cases, splint therapy is effective in preventing teeth grinding at night: a custom fit oral appliance, much like a sports mouthguard, which is worn at night or during the day during high stress situations when patients may grind their teeth. Stress can also be a common cause of bruxism and patients may benefit from stress reducing activities such as exercise, meditation or other types of stress management to reduce teeth grinding and its effects on dental health.
For more complex cases, or situations where teeth are damaged, Dr. Lazer may recommend a restorative dental procedure to bring the bite back into proper alignment and prevent teeth grinding and its effects.