This Clenches It…You Have Bruxism

What is bruxism? To put it simply, bruxism is the habitual clenching and grinding of teeth, not related to chewing. The etymology of the word dates back to Greece. “Bruxism” is derived from “brychein,” which means “to gnash teeth,” plus “-ism,” which is the English form of the Greek suffix “-ismos,” meaning “the condition of.”

Can bruxism harm me? Many people are unaware that they clench and grind their teeth because the action occurs while they sleep. Stressed jaw muscles can flex and relax repeatedly while you’re sound asleep. Because jaw muscles are capable of about 55-280 lbs. of pressure, teeth grinding can be extremely damaging, particularly on molars. Over time, bruxism causes tooth enamel to wear thin, and the pressure can cause fractures and chips which lead to hypersensitivity. Teeth can also loosen as a result of constant gnashing and clenching. Bruxism contributes to TMJ disorder, commonly causing headaches, migraines, chronic earaches, pain in the head, neck, face and jaw. Finally, bruxism is a factor in bone loss around the teeth and periodontal disease.

How can you know if you have bruxism? For some, a spouse or sleeping partner mentions the habitual nighttime grinding. If you clench and grind your teeth, you may notice that your jaw is always sore, your jaw joints click or pop, your teeth appear short or worn down, or you notice indentions in your tongue. The first to notice and diagnose bruxism may be your dentist.

How is bruxism treated? Dr. Seal recommends an oral appliance, worn at night, to keep upper and lower teeth from touching. This appliance, commonly called a nightguard, positions your jaws in proper alignment so that muscles can relax while you sleep. It is also very important to address these problems caused by bruxism, so that they do not worsen or lead to more complex issues.

What’s my next step? Call D. Greg Seal Prosthodontics today at 214.361.0883 in North Dallas for a consultation. Dr. Seal can analyze your teeth and mouth to determine whether bruxism and/or TMJ disorder affect you. Our dentist office serves patients in the Park Cities, SMU, and Katy Trail areas.