Bruxism is also known as teeth grinding. Grinding your teeth is bad because it can aggravate the joints in your lower jaw, which leads to pain or tightness in the joint area, earaches and headaches. In most cases bruxism is mild. Most people are unaware that they grind their teeth because they do it in their sleep, and are usually told by a loved one who hears the sound, but in other cases, waking up with a headache or sore jaw.
Causes and Complications of Bruxism
But when you grind your teeth on a daily basis, this can cause complications. Bruxism can cause an abnormal bite or be caused by the teeth being aligned or with a poor bite. Severe grinding of your teeth can cause TMJ, a problem with your jaw and muscles in your face. Bruxism can also occur because of stress or severe injuries, or can be a side effect from various medications like Prozac or Zoloft.
How Can a Dentist Treat Bruxism
There are many ways for treating bruxism (teeth grinding), one therapy is using a mouth guard. Another treatment method is a mouth splint. Mouth guards and mouth splints may help reduce muscle activity in your jaw at night, however, they are only able to control the condition. If you are looking for a cure, a dentist can also work on realignment of your teeth. This is usually the option that works. In other more severe cases, crowns are used to reshape the surfaces of your teeth.
Duration and Prevention of Bruxism
Children with bruxism will typically stop spontaneously by age 10-13. Bruxism in adults depends on its cause. If the cause is a dental problem, the issue should be resolved after a few dental visits. In both kids and adults, tooth damage related to bruxism can solved with a night bite plate or a bite splint or mouth guard.
Still, there are others ways to manage bruxism that include behavioral treatments such as muscle relaxation exercises or Dental Sleep Medicine and therapies.
Dental Sleep Medicine
One area of dental practice you may not be aware of is Dental sleep medicine. Dental sleep medicine focuses on the use of oral therapy to treat sleep-disorders like sleep apnea or snoring. Oral appliance therapy is the use of an oral appliance such as a mouth guard or retainer to treat for snoring or obstructive sleep apnea by preventing your airway from collapsing and holding your tongue and supporting your jaw. In these cases, dentists work together with sleep physicians to identify the best treatment for each patient. A dentist will custom fit you for an oral appliance so that it can be personalized to your needs.
Sleep Apnea Health Risks
A variety of health risks are associated with sleep apnea. They include:
- Sudden cardiac death
• High blood pressure
• Heart disease
• Erectile dysfunction
• Gastric reflux
• Loss of memory
50% of people who get a CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) device, one of the most common treatments for sleep apnea and snoring, stop using it within 12 months. Leaving your obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) untreated like this can increase your chance of stroke, heart attack and heart failure. Untreated OSA can also take 20% off your life expectancy. Dr. Lee offers a solution for patients who become intolerant of the CPAP. A customized, FDA approved oral medical appliance will hold the jaw in a proper position during sleep. This can keep soft tissue from collapsing and blocking airflow, eliminating both snoring and OSA. Dr. Lee has had great results from the oral appliances she has prescribed, and she will be happy to talk with you about options that can help.
Qualified Dentists to Treat with Dental Sleep Medicine
Oral appliance therapy and dental sleep medicine should be provided by a qualified dentist who has correct certifications in dental sleep medicine. Training in how to provide oral appliance therapy is absolutely necessary in order to have the training or experience to provide optimal care for those with snoring or sleep apnea. The American Board of Dental Sleep Medicine (ABDSM) certifies dentists who treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea with oral appliance therapy. Dr. Lee has this special training in treating with dental sleep medicine.