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Bruxism

Bruxism refers to an oral parafunctional activity that occurs in most humans at some point in their lives.   Grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw are the two main characteristics of this condition, which can occur during the day or at night.

Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders and causes most of its damage during sleeping hours.  The clenching and grinding which accompanies bruxism is symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex, which is turned off in non-sufferers when sleeping.  For sufferers, deep sleep or even naps cause the reflex nerve control center in the brain to turn off and the reflex pathways to become active.

Typically, the incisors and canines (front 6 upper and lower teeth) of opposing arches grind against each other laterally.  This side to side action puts undue strain on the medial pterygoid muscles and the temporomandibular joints.  Earache, depression, headaches, eating disorders, and anxiety are among the most common symptoms of bruxism; these symptoms also accompany health issues such as chronic stress, Alzheimer’s disease, and alcohol abuse.

Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear.  Only a trained professional can tell the difference between bruxing wear and wear caused by overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks, and abrasive foods.

A BiteStrip® is an economical device used to diagnose bruxism at home.  The device itself is a small electromyography which senses and monitors any activity in the jaw muscles during sleep.  The frequency and severity of the condition can then be assessed and the best treatment plan can be formulated.

Reasons for the treatment of bruxism

Here are some of the main reasons why bruxism should be promptly treated:

  • Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss. It damages the soft tissue directly and leads to loose teeth and deep pockets, where bacteria can colonize and destroy the supporting bone. 
  • Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.
  • Arthritis – In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (the joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).
  • Myofascial pain – The grinding associated with bruxism can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth.  This can lead to debilitating headaches and muscle pain in the myofascial region.
Treatment options for bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available.  Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:

  • Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep.  Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help to stabilize the occlusion as well as prevent damage to teeth and to the temporomandibular joint.
  • NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth.  The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.
  • Botox® – Botox® can be injected into the muscles to relax and weaken them.  Botox® is an excellent treatment for bruxism because it weakens the muscles enough to prevent grinding but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.

Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education, and biofeedback mechanisms.  When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts, and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.

If you have questions or concerns about bruxism, please contact our office.

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Finding a good dentist is so essential for overall health. Dr. Patel is highly professional and has such a gentle touch. I have commuted from Orange and Ventura counties to keep using her services. Highly recommend.

Rebecca R.

Dr. Patel is the best dental experience I've ever had.

Important context: I hate the dentist like poison, and because of that, I need really nice, patient, compassionate dentists because by the time I end up going, whatever problem I have is usually really bad.

Anyway, Dr. Patel was not only a skilled dentist, but she had incredible bedside manner (as did her entire staff). They also shuffled stuff around for me just to make my life easier. I couldn't say enough nice things about her, her staff, her fellow dentists (one guy named Arthur was also very very nice).

Brendan S.

I had moved to Burbank a year and a half ago without a doctor or a dentist. My boyfriend is from the area and recommended Dr. Patel. Thankfully she's in my insurance network! I went to her for a basic check up and now she's been my dentist ever since. Dr. Patel and her staff are super welcoming and very nice! Veronica, her receptionist, is a sweetheart! They call for appointment reminders, so you can't miss your appointment. The office is very clean! They use pretty high tech equipment for xrays, it's all computerized now. Dr. Patel is very nice and gets to know you. Last time, she mentioned things that I told her in the appointment. Very surprising that she'd remember those details, it means she cares!

They have great hours and also have select Saturdays! The parking lot is free, easy to locate the office, and it's easy to get to. Right off of the freeway.

I would definitely recommend Dr. Patel to anyone.

Maika P.

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