Grinding And Clenching

Dental Health Connection

Randall W. Smith, DDS

Cosmetic & General Dentistry & Facial Aesthetics Specialist located in Burlington, MA

An estimated 30 to 40 million people in the United States live with bruxism, a condition that causes them to unconsciously grind, gnash, or clench their teeth throughout the day or when they’re asleep at night. At Dental Health Connection: Randall W. Smith, DDS, Dr. Smith offers comprehensive bruxism solutions for patients of all ages, including children. If you’re ready to put an end to involuntary grinding or clenching, call the Burlington, Massachusetts, office, or book an appointment online today.

Grinding and Clenching Q & A

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term used to describe the unconscious or involuntary act of grinding, gnashing, or clenching your teeth. Although this persistent problem affects people of all ages, it’s most common among children, affecting up to 30% of all kids.

Most people who chronically grind, gnash, or clench their teeth either do it during the day (awake bruxism), or at night (sleep bruxism).

People who grind their teeth as they sleep tend to be completely unaware of their nighttime habit until they develop symptoms or complications, while those who clench their teeth during the day often don’t even realize they’re doing it.  

Does bruxism cause symptoms?

Mild bruxism doesn’t usually produce any noticeable signs or symptoms and often resolves itself without treatment.

Moderate or severe cases of bruxism, however, can give rise to a wide range of symptoms and related complications, including:

  • Flat, cracked, chipped, or loose teeth
  • Increased tooth pain and sensitivity
  • Visibly thin or worn tooth enamel
  • Persistent jaw pain or facial tenderness
  • Overly tight jaw muscles; lockjaw
  • Morning headaches or chronic migraines

Children who grind their teeth may experience ongoing ear pain that’s similar to an earache, or they may complain that their jaw always feels sore or tender.  

Nighttime grinding can also lead to sleep disruption and daytime fatigue, especially if it’s loud enough to wake you or your partner.

How is bruxism treated?

Determining the underlying cause of your grinding or clenching problem is key to finding the solution that’s best for you.

Learning effective ways to manage stress or address anxiety help alleviate the problem if you tend to grind or clench your teeth when you feel stressed or anxious; consciously practicing proper jaw positioning can also be beneficial.

In some cases, Botox® can help with your grinding or clenching problem. When small doses of botulinum toxin are injected into the temporalis and masseter muscles in the jaw, it weakens those muscles, forcing your jaw to relax.

When bruxism is a byproduct of another health condition, such as temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMD) or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), treating the underlying health problem may be all it takes to improve bruxism.   

Do I need an oral splint?

If you have moderate to severe sleep bruxism, Dr. Smith can prescribe a custom-fitted oral splint designed to put an immediate end to nighttime grinding and clenching.

Wearing an oral splint over your teeth as you sleep helps keep your upper and lower jaws separated, stops you from grinding and clenching, and prevents tooth damage.

Dr. Smith offers high-quality BiteSoft® splints for sleep bruxism. On top of preventing nighttime grinding and clenching, this comfortable, custom-created mouthpiece also helps re-establish optimal jaw stability and relaxation.

If you’re ready to put an end to chronic grinding or clenching, call Dental Health Connection: Randall W. Smith, DDS or schedule an appointment online today.