Statistics show that 10-15% of Americans moderately to severely grind their teeth, with stress being the number one factor for the habit of grinding. Clenching can also occur alongside grinding which is what is referred to as “bruxism” and typically occurs in the young adult population. The habit of bruxism – night or day-time – typically leads to worn teeth, sensitivity, jaw aches, failed restorations, as well as cracked or broken teeth which may require extensive restorative work and sometimes even extractions! In areas with a large population of young working adult population, such as Ellicott City, MD, dentists see a much larger percentage of bruxism in their practices.
Is there a way to stop yourself from grinding all-together? Is bruxism something that can be managed with the help of a dentist?
1. Night guards – you may require to have custom made night guards fabricated for you by your dentist which will protect your teeth from further wear and trauma from grinding/clenching.
2. Massages – doing massages on your jaw muscles accompanied by warm/wet towel compresses helps relax your muscles before bedtime decreasing the likelihood of clenching and/or grinding through the night.
3. Reducing stress – this may be easier said than done but learning to calmly process and manage your day-to- day events and creating a low-stress environment for yourself may play a pivotal role for not just your bruxism habit but your mental and physical health altogether!
4. Botox injections – this is probably the only treatment which will arrest bruxism completely. It is a targeted muscle treatment with injectable botulinum toxin which relaxes the muscles which tense during grinding or clenching and with repeated treatments reprograms your muscles and eventually gets you out of the habit of grinding or clenching all-together.
5. Physical Therapy - Bruxism associated with more complex TMD may require physical therapy intervention.