TMD / Bruxism (Grinding) Treatment
Grinding of the teeth (clinically
referred as bruxism) results in a
progressive loss of tooth height and
structure. This is cause from
unintentionally bringing the teeth
together under pressure and rubbing them
together. Consequently, the tips of the
teeth take on a flattened, roughened
look. This situation can continue to the
point where the outer surface of the
tooth (enamel) is rubbed off, exposing
the inner surface of the tooth (dentin).
When exposed, the dentin may become
sensitive. Patients who grind their
teeth may also experience pain in their
TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint), which may
manifest itself as popping and clicking.
Problems with the TMJ may further lead
to temporomandibular disorder (TMD),
which may manifest itself as lock jaw,
jaw pain, earaches, headaches/migraines,
and neck muscle pain.
It is interesting to note that most patients that clench or grind their teeth are not aware that they have this destructive dental habit. Most often this grinding/clenching occurs when they are asleep.
Treatment, if the problem is recognized early, is accomplished with a hard acrylic splint or biteguard appliance. This appliance is designed to fit on the biting surface of the upper or lower teeth. This will not prevent the grinding habit, but it will absorb the force of the grinding and protect the teeth and the jaw joints. The patient will create wear patterns, holes or even destroy the acrylic appliance, which is much softer than the opposing lower teeth, and leave the teeth intact. The bite appliance is more economical to repair or replace than the teeth themselves. Thus, when worn on a daily basis, the bite guard will prevent or greatly reduce the wear process of the teeth.