Tuesday, June 8, 2010



Bruxism is the involuntary ”nervous” grinding of the teeth while a patient is asleep. Bruxism is the technical term for grinding and clenching that abrades teeth and may cause facial pain. People who grind and clench called bruxers unintentionally bite down too hard at inappropriate times such as in their sleep. In addition to grinding teeth bruxers also may bite their fingernails pencils and chew the inside of their cheek. Bruxism affects between 10-50% of the population and is a subconscious behavior so many people do not realize that they are doing it.

Bruxism can lead to pain and cause damage to gums and other oral structures. Some of the problems associated with bruxism are outlined below.

· Sore Facial Muscles Headaches and Ear-Aches

· Cosmetic Damage from teeth being ground down

· Sensitive Teeth due to the enamel of the tooth being worn away

· Fractured Teeth and Fillings Temporomandibular Joint Damage 

One of the main problems related to bruxism outlined above is Tempromandibular Joint Syndrome (TMJ) in which the cartilage around the joints of the upper and lower jaws becomes irritated. This irritation can cause pain in the jaw and ears. Headaches associated with joint and muscle strain are common symptoms associated with bruxism.

The meeting surfaces of the upper and lower teeth can be ground down so much that an imbalance in closure between the left and right sides of the mouth is created which can result in periodontal disease and structural stress to the tissues and roots of the teeth.

To prevent further tooth damage a dentist may fit the patient with a rubber mouth guard called an “o-guard” or occlusive guard. The mouth guard takes the punishment that your teeth would normally endure during your bruxism and helps minimize the damage associated with bruxism.