In dentistry, bruxism is more simply defined as teeth grinding. It’s often described as gnashing or clenching, but either way – it’s a practice that is destructive to the teeth over the long term. For someone dealing with bruxism, it may manifest as unconscious clenching of the teeth during the daytime, or downright grinding of the teeth at night (more commonly referred to as “sleep” bruxism). Depending on the seriousness and extent of tooth damage, professional attention is recommended.
Medically speaking, sleep bruxism is diagnosed as a sleep related disorder. Patients who present with symptoms, and who grind their teeth while they sleep, are often prone to other sleep related disorders like excessive snoring and sleep apnea. And while mild cases of bruxism may not really require any medical treatment, there are cases where treatment is both required and prescribed. Indeed, it’s a condition can result in jaw issues, headaches, and damaged or deteriorating teeth.
Routine dental checkups are essential to maintaining good oral health. And when it comes to bruxism, it’s especially important. Patients prone to sleep bruxism are most likely unaware of their condition, until more severe symptoms develop. But with regular dental visits, the obvious signs and related symptoms of bruxism are readily visible to the dentist. Indeed, there are different symptoms with “awake” bruxism (no grinding) and “sleep” bruxism (grinding and jawbone contractions).
Medical studies reinforce the premise that “sleep” bruxism seldom occurs on its own. And it’s been shown in studies that “sleep” bruxism might be symptomatic of a more specific sleep disorder. In fact, there is strong evidence that associates “sleep” bruxism with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, which in itself has many symptoms. The key to resolution is proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment. In conditions where stress and anxiety are the cause of bruxism, dental health would be adjunct.
In many cases, a mouth guard or mouth splint may be the answer for patients who grind their teeth while sleeping. These appliances balance out jaw pressure, while creating a barrier between upper and lower teeth. Ideally, any dental appliance should be designed and installed by a dental professional, and customized for the patient and the purpose. The point is, whether it’s a mouth guard or a splint, both are intended to effectively reduce short-term symptoms and long-term damage.
Most important in maintaining overall dental health is day-to-day personal care and attention – it’s guaranteed to bring long-term benefits. In keeping with a preventive approach, it’s also important to arrange for regular, ongoing dental checkups. And when it comes to bruxism, routine checkups are bound to identify problems early on and provide treatment options in order to prevent the potential for future damage. Unattended, grinding could lead to cracked teeth and more serious consequences.
Dental health is as essential as general health, and your dentist can provide it all – diagnostics – treatment – and guidance. With the latest high-tech equipment, and a highly trained staff, you can count on your dentist for professional care that will address the short term concerns, while preventing future problems.