Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity that commonly occurs in most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day.
Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active, while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches, headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
- Gum recession. Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding can damage the soft tissue directly and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.
- Facial pain. Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal trauma. The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which, if left untreated, may require restorative treatment at a later time.
- Arthritis. In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.
Though there is no known cure for bruxism, there are a variety of devices and services available through
our office to help treat bruxism:
- Mouthguards. An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Mouthguards must be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.
Once bruxing is under control, we can perform a variety of dental procedures to restore the pleasant aesthetic appearance to your smile such as crown application, gum grafts, and crown lengthening.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is recognized as repeated episodes of cessation in breathing during sleep. Sleep Apnea can be treated effectively using various approaches, including Continuous Positive Air Pressure (CPAP), oral appliance therapy and surgery.
Snoring is considered a major indicator of OSA. Risk factors include weight gain, age, family history and anatomic abnormalities.
Untreated sleep apnea is a major independent risk factor contributing to:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Cognitive impairment and daytime sleepiness
- Motor vehicle accidents
- Increased mortality
Diagnosing sleep apnea
Detecting sleep apnea generally involves a sleep study, using polysomnography (PSG) to monitor various physiological functions during an overnight stay in a laboratory or hospital. Studies demonstrated the efficacy of the Watch-PAT in diagnosing sleep apnea in the comfort of the patient’s home, an environment that is more friendly to the patient and better reflects the actual pattern of a patients sleep habits. Our office can give you a referral to a sleep study if needed.
When it comes to protecting your smile during active sports, a properly fitted sports guard is highly
recommended. Sports guards work to cushion impact that may cause broken teeth, jaw injuries, cuts to the lip, tongue or face.
Our office can make you or your child a custom mouthguard that is comfortable and protects the jaw and teeth. Ready-made mouthguards can be cheaper, but do not fit as well as custom ones. They also can be harder to speak and breathe with. The less comfortable a guard is, the less likely it would be worn regularly.
Treatment for sports-related injuries can be very expensive, therefore investment in a custom sports guard can be money well spent. Discuss types of mouth guards with your dentist today!