Treatment of bruxism (night time teeth grinding) is an epidemic disease, every second person is affected by it, even though it’s treatable!
It’s common knowledge that a busy, stressful lifestyle has a negative effect on the quality of our sleep. While tossing and turning with tenseness, we tend to clench our jaw and grind our teeth. We could wake up with mobile teeth and facial muscle, head, neck, shoulder or back pain in the morning. Our smile changes unnoticeably over the years and we only realise the difference when we check out our old pictures. Those changes are made by “night time teeth grinding”.
Fatigue, lethargy, head and neck pain, numbness, and tinnitus but also migraine attack can be caused by night time teeth grinding!
The main reason of teeth grinding, and clenching is the unstable touching of the upper and lower teeth. For that reason, the temporomandibular joint cannot relax or reach its resting point. The instability can be caused even by a larger crown or a higher filling. Some are grinding back and forth others are doing it to the sides. Why are we grinding unconsciously? Because the joint under normal circumstances produces reflex movements. For example, if someone has normal teeth length on the sides, but the front teeth have space between them, they tend to squeeze until front teeth contact is established - which is an impossible.
The back and forward grinding often develops in young hood, as asymptomatic wisdom teeth can grow in any direction creating invisible interferences in bite and chewing movement. If wisdom teeth are growing hidden in the bone and push against the last teeth, poor contact may also occur. At the same time, it is also possible that we only react to daily stress in our dreams and grinding is only a bad habit. Only a dentist can determine the exact reason.
Consequence: wears and pains
The edges of the front teeth are worn, fractured, and the neck of the affected teeth get damaged. In more severe cases the wears occur on all chewing surfaces as well. It is a misconception that chewing wears the teeth down, as it takes about half a minute to chew a bite, when teeth only touch for 0.2 seconds. This touching time is "nothing" to compare to a night time average 45 minutes-4 hours grinding.
Consequences may reach further than the teeth, resulting tension and pain in the temples, neck, head and even in the shoulder and back. Due to the connection between the jaw joint and the structure of the inner ear, ear congestion, ear popping, even migraine can arise. When the teeth are raised and rearranged to their ideal position, the ideal bite height is created and the wrinkles around the lips smoothen out. While in severe, untreated cases, the joint can be damaged, and its surfaces worn out. The cause of the persistent abnormal movements can be diagnosed on an X-ray.
As the temporomandibular joint can’t regenerate, it is often possible to improve the situation by bite raising based on precious measurements. Different mouthguards and tooth protection splints (MICHIGAN SPLINT) prevent further progression of wear or orthodontics can finalize the new bite. For cases, that are more serious oral surgery is the answer, which often is a team effort. The oral surgeon might be extracting the oblique wisdom tooth, while the orthodontist adjusts the direction and position of the teeth, so that the aesthetic dentist can develop the final shape, colour and size of the teeth.