These days it’s amazing what treatments out there can do to help fix a bad habit. Dr Maureen Allem explains what you can do to treat and prevent teeth grinding.
What is Bruxism or teeth grinding?
Bruxism is characterised by the grinding of the teeth and is typically accompanied by the clenching of the jaw, leading to morning migraines, headaches, jaw and TMJ pain. No exact figures on the frequency of bruxism are available as over 80% of all bruxers may be unaware of the habit. The diagnosis is usually made when the teeth are examined by a dental surgeon. For these reasons, estimates of the prevalence of bruxism range from 5% to 20%.
What causes Bruxism or teeth grinding?
Bruxism “gnashing of teeth” is characterized by the grinding of the teeth and is typically accompanied by the clenching of the jaw. It is an oral habit that occurs in most humans at some time in their lives. In most people, bruxism is mild enough not to be a health problem. While bruxism may occur during the day or night activity, it is bruxism during sleep that causes the majority of health issues and can even occur during short naps. Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders. Some bruxism activity is rhythmic (like chewing), and some is sustained (clenching). Researchers classify bruxism as “a habitual behavior, and a sleep disorder.”
How is Bruxism diagnosed?
Most bruxers are not aware of their bruxism, and only 5% go on to develop symptoms, such as jaw pain, migraines and headaches, which will require treatment. In many cases, a sleeping partner or parent will notice the bruxism before the person experiencing the problem becomes aware of it.
How does Botox treat Bruxism or teeth grinding?
A novel treatment for this condition is to weaken the masseter muscles of the jaw with strategically placed Botox injections. These weaken the muscle enough to reduce the effects of grinding and clenching, but not so much as to prevent proper use of the muscle. The procedure involves about five or six relatively painless injections and patients start feeling the effects the following day with migraines usually dissipating by the end of the first week. Injections must be repeated every six months but the habit is usually broken after the second treatment.
How can Botox injections help alleviate the symptoms of Bruxism?
The symptoms that may be improved by Botox include:
• Migraines triggered by clenching
• Grinding and clenching
• Morning jaw soreness
• TMJ pain
• Muscle tension throughout the day
• Neck pain and stiffness triggered by clenching