Bruxism is a disorder characterized by the subconscious clenching of the jaw and grinding of the teeth during sleep. Bruxism is often a symptom of sleep apnea, a sleep disorder where the patient experiences frequent pauses in breathing and blockages in the airway. Ignoring bruxism can lead to more complicated symptoms that may affect your everyday routine.
What Are the Effects of Bruxism?
- The teeth may face severe wear, due to which they may become extremely sensitive, look shorter than usual, undergo surface cracks, etc.
- The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) that connect the lower jaw to the skull may undergo excessive stress, making it difficult to move the jaw. This can be experienced as limited movement of the jaws, pain while biting or chewing food, brushing the teeth, yawning, etc.
- Since the biting surfaces of the teeth wear away, it may become uncomfortable to bite or chew food.
- The root canal space of the teeth may become exposed to the microbes in the mouth, thus significantly increasing the risk of developing a dental infection.
- The jaw may get stuck in an open position for a brief period.
- The tissues surrounding the TMJ may become swollen or inflamed.
- The patient may also experience clicking or popping sounds in the TMJ when they move the jaw.
How Is Bruxism Treated?
The dentist will conduct a thorough diagnosis of your oral condition and determine how best to treat it. We would recommend using a night-time bruxism guard, which would be customized according to the contour of your oral cavity. The bruxism guard is made from dental-grade plastic, allowing it to retain its shape for a long duration. It keeps the teeth from the upper and lower jaw from coming into contact with each other, thereby preventing the abrasive wear of the enamel. If the condition is complicated and linked to the alignment of the jaw, we may have to perform surgery to change the positioning of the jaw.
Additionally, patients would have to make subtle changes to their everyday routines. Being conscious of the jaw movement and avoiding clenching the jaw can help prevent excessive stress from being applied to the TMJ. Stretching exercise and massaging the TMJ relieve the stress lodged in the tissues, enabling the lower jaw's better movement. It is also advisable to avoid frequent snacking.
To schedule a consultation with our dental experts, call any of our offices in Livonia [at (734) 425-7888] or Ann Arbor [at (734) 888-8886] or book an appointment online. We're always happy to help our patients!