Facts About Tooth Grinding
Facts About Tooth Grinding
Ronald Rosenblatt, DDS (General and Cosmetic Dentistry) gives expert video advice on: What are the problems associated with tooth grinding?; What can I do to prevent damage from tooth grinding? and more...
What is "myofascial pain disorder"?
Myofascial pain disorder is a structural disease of the mouth. Besides structural problems, it can also have biochemical and emotional factors. The structural problems or the problems with the bite or the malocclusion causes an over activation of the muscles of the jaw, the head, and the neck. Over time this can cause pain, tension, and spasms. Many people call this Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction, or Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome, or TMJ.
What is the difference between "tooth grinding" and "bruxism"?
Tooth grinding and bruxism are two very different things. They're both symptoms of major disease in the mouth, but they are different. Tooth grinding is rubbing one tooth against the other and often wearing those teeth down. Bruxism is clenching the teeth together and then rocking the teeth. Because they are different, they are going to cause different problems in the mouth.
How common is "tooth grinding"?
There are about 40 million people at any one time that are suffering from myofascial pain disorder, or tooth grinding, and there are various symptoms for it. Thus tooth grinding is a fairly common situation, but it usually has to do with a structural, biochemical or emotional problem, and these things can be attended to by your dentist.
Why does tooth grinding happen at night?
Tooth grinding actually happens all the time, but it happens more at night because you're not doing other things with your jaw. At night, you're trying to relax and the jaw wants to go in a certain place, and it will try to move things out of the way, to go to the position that the jaw wants to be in. If your teeth are impeding that, that's where the tooth grinding occurs. Your jaws are trying to grind your teeth down so they won't be in the way, and allow the jaws to go to the place they want to go to.
What are the problems associated with tooth grinding?
Tooth grinding is a chronic problem, and because it's a chronic problem, it may take many years to see the major problems. The major problems would be pain in the mouth, and disease of the muscles, and constant headaches, or even numbness of the hands and the arms. There are other things we see too: clicking on the jaw opening and closing, pain in and around the jaw joint, facial pain, wearing of the teeth, chipping, breaking of restorations, and stuffiness in the ears. So, there are lots of things that can be caused by this, but most of them over time. We can recognize the symptoms before the pain, and we should probably treat the symptoms long before the pain begins.
What can I do to prevent damage from tooth grinding?
If you are doing a lot of tooth grinding, there is a reason for it, and usually the reason is that your jaw wants to go someplace that the teeth will not allow it to. The muscles of the jaw want to be in a certain place because that's where they're comfortable. However, everybody wants to put as many teeth together as possible and will thrust their jaw in any way they can to do this. Unfortunately, in doing that you cause an overactivation of these muscles and pain will ensue if it lasts a long time. So if you do have the problem of tooth grinding, you need to have your occlusion adjusted so that the jaw will be happy where your teeth come together. The muscles will then be at rest and not hyperactive.
Will a "night guard" or other device prevent my tooth grinding?
When you have a problem with your bite or night grinding, there are a couple ways that you can treat that. You're going to need some type of an orthotic placed into your mouth. So you can either make what I call a "sacrificial orthotic," that would be a night guard. So instead of grinding on your teeth, you're grinding on the plastic. But it doesn't really cure the problem of night grinding, it just allows you to chew on the plastic. And when you've ground through the plastic, you get a new one, and you grind through that one. The other type of prosthetic orthotic is made to adjust the bite, so that it acts as a shim to allow your jaws to be in the right position. And then, after everything has calmed down and your jaw muscles are comfortable, something needs to be done with the bite to allow you to maintain that position.
How long do I have to use my night guard?
If you're going to use a night guard as a sacrificial appliance, then you're going to have to wear it forever. The reason that a night guard doesn't really help is if we're going to change your bite, we need to change your bite all day long, twenty-four hours a day. It would be as though you had broken your leg, and you just wore your cast at night, and during the day you didn't wear the cast. It's not going to work.