Bruxism FAQs

Bruxism FAQs

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What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. Bruxism typically occurs at night while we are asleep and is among the commonest sleep disorders. Most individuals are unaware of their bruxism and may not spot the damage they do to their teeth or associate the pain and sensitivity in their teeth and jaw muscles. This often leads to tooth damage and jaw muscle discomfort. It can impact grown-ups and children but is most typical in adults aged from their mid twenties to their mid 40s. It's believed that up to 10% of people suffer from bruxism.

The causes of bruxism are varied and range from increased anxiety and stress, to psychological problems and drug abuse. Unfortunately there are no cures for Bruxism, however coincidental evidence suggests that hypnotherapy may discourage the habit in some patients. Bruxism can occur when you are awake or when you are asleep. Awake bruxism will tend to just be a clenching of the teeth, whereas bruxism during sleep also involves grinding of the teeth. Numerous studies have found links between sleeping problems and bruxism, the strongest being between bruxism and obstructive sleep apnoea, this is a condition where the suffere has regular pauses of breathing while asleep. Stress, anxiety, caffeine, alcohol and tobacco are known to increase the possibility of teeth grinding during sleep.

The causes are essentially unknown. It may be induced by stress or occlusal imbalance, or jaw displacements. Occlusal interferences e.g. a high restoration. There may be a genetic or familial predisposition. Some diet factors may trigger the onset or weaken the enamel hastening tooth loss,eg beef, cafeine, and dietary stimulants. The acids contained in drinks and fruit may soften the enamel. And the use of abrasive toothpaste and abrasive tooth brushes may hasten the process.

What are the Sypmtoms of Bruxism?

Tooth grinding and bruxism presents itself in a number of ways. Ranging from wear of the enamel of the teeth showing as shiny polished areas on the tooth surface in its minimum form. To repeat fractures of the teeth, chipping of the incisor tips, vertical stress lines on the teeth, abfraction at the gum margins of teeth e.g. depressions of the thin enamel dentine areas of teeth formerly considered to be due to excess tooth brushing.

The teeth may reduce in overall size so that often the incisors will be shortened, causing a generalised flattening of the teeth with loss of incisor tips, cusp tips height of teeth and tooth loss. Sophia Loren was a brilliant example of this. Repeated fracture of restorations may also occur.

Sufferers may complain about tooth sensitivity particularly at the necks of the teeth. Commonly seen on the bicuspid and molar teeth in the upper arch. There's loss of tooth length or height and evidence of chipping of the enamel. Bruxists may complain of headaches, migrinous headaches and strain headaches. The muscle of mastication may also be uncomfortable or over developed causing the person's face to appear broadened, particularly at the angle of the lower jaws.

How to Protect Your Teeth from Bruxism

Bruxism is among the most common sleep disorders. Fortunately for most people teeth grinding is mild enough to not be an issue. However for some people the clenching and grinding of their teeth can wear the enamel down and even cause some teeth to collapse if already decayed. Bruxism involves the muscles in the jaw and can lead to jaw and facial pain, headaches, tinnitus, as well as sensitive teeth and receding gums.

Dental guards allow the person to naturally clench and grind as they want to. The dental guard works by protecting the teeth with a layer of material that covers all the surfaces. Dental guards range from over-the-counter plastic devices, customized plastic devices provided by a dentist, and at the very top end are customized chrome cobalt alloy devices supplied by a dentist and individually designed by a specialist. A chrome cobalt device offers the most durable protection from teeth grinding.

Coincidental evidence suggests that hypnotherapy may discourage the habit in some patients. Biofeedback devices are designed to give an undesirable sensation in response to bruxism in the hope that it will reduce further the clenching and grinding. These range from headbands that deliver an electrical shock or a sound. To oral devices that twist the front teeth or deliver a bad taste into the mouth. If the teeth have unfortunately been damaged they might need to be repaired with new crowns. The crowns themselves will then need to be protected from damage caused by grinding. A dental guard will protect the artificial teeth in the same way it protects the natural teeth.

The Somnowell Chrome being made of cast chrome cobalt alloy, may be more resilient to the adverse forces of bruxism and jaw parafunction habits. However the forces generated by these habits can be so severe as to cause the distortion and damage to the Somnowell Chrome device. Such damage is not covered in the warentee. see guarantee terms and conditions.

How to Successfully Deal with Your Own Bruxism

The first step in managing bruxism is recognition and awareness. Then to limit any aggravating factors e.g. decrease in red protein and caffeine in the diet, plus limit the intake of acid drinks and control the amount and frequency of these. Also manage stress e.g. yoga, pilates, meditation, acupuncture, hypnotherapy. And treat any dental factors e.g. reduce high restorations, get the bite balanced, plus have the malocclusion and especially the jaw displacement corrected.

Dentists can also prescribe plastic bite guards or gum shields, or more sophisticated Michigen splints. All of these devices intend to change the biting habits and act as a separator between opposing teeth. The most popular treatment is the use of a mouth guard that's worn during sleep. Bruxism mouth guards come in different shapes and sizes, however they are all designed to keep the teeth apart and protect the teeth from the damage caused by clenching and grinding.

Plastic devices suffer considerable damage from the clenching and grinding. All the plastic devices ultimately need to be replaced. This a continuous and costly cycle. During the lifespan of the plastic device, the material may prematurely wear down and or fracture. The underlying teeth will then over erupt giving rise to an occlusal interference. The patient then during the bruxing process locates this interference and proceeds to unconsously grind this away and so the destructive cycle continues. Furthermore plastic oral devices all become colonized by oral fungi and bacteria, making them unsightly and unpleasant.

The Somnowell Chrome oral device offers a long term dental barrier in the management of bruxism. The appliance is worn during sleep and times of hightened stress. The two opposing balanced metal frameworks function as a barrier between the opposing jaws so that the patient grinds a smooth metal against smooth metal rather than enamel to enamel. The weight of the grinding habit is distributed over the outside of the dentition by the Somnowell Chrome appliance. In most cases the Somnowell Chrome will not stop the habit, though in some case the habit might be broken by the introduction of the Somnowell Chrome appliance. However the forces applied by the jaws are enormous and may cause the device to be distorted or damaged which may adversely affect the fit and success of the device. See guarantee conditions.

Custom Nightguards and Regular Nightguards

Plastic oral devices including the Somnowell Clear and CAD CAM have a relatively short life span and are contraindicated in patients with bruxism and jaw parafunction.

Any oral device that will be worn for a long period should be designed for the person's mouth. Each person's mouth is unique, their jaw shape, jaw size, and teeth all differ.

To have the best prospects of protection and comfort, the mouth guard should be made to perfectly fit the individual's jaw and teeth. Almost all mouth guards, whether over-the-counter, or from a dentist, are made from plastic. This means that the devices are bulky and can be difficult for people to get used to wearing. The plastic has needed to be bulky to have the required strength.

The Somnowell Chrome is an alternative device which is more suited to patients who grind their teeth ( bruxism) that is made of cast chrom cobalt metal alloy. This material has been utilized for over 50 years in dentistry to make partial dentures. Its use in devices for bruxism is new however. The benefits are that the device is far smaller, many times more durable, and long lasting. The downsides are that it can only be acquired from a dentist. The clinical records required are more extensive, and the design and production is more complicated.

The Somnowell Chrome oral device works in a similar way as the other devices, the difference being that the chrome cobalt alloy is like gold and is excellent for long term use in the mouth. And like gold it suffers less wear and tear in the oral environment as compared to plastic devices and is largly resistant to oral fungi and bacteria. The appliance is worn at night time only. However the forces applied by the jaws are enormous and may cause the device to be distorted or damaged which may adversely affect the fit and success of the device. See guarantee conditions.

Long Term Solutions for Bruxism

Plastic oral devices for bruxism have a realtively short lifepsan due to damage inflicted by the clenching and grinding. Plastic nightguards are therefore a temporary short term solution. During the lifespan of a plastic device it may fracture and parts may break off.

Plastic is not an ideal material for long term use in the mouth. The bruxists clenching and grinding will speedily wear the plastic device and it'll soon need to be replaced. Used over a long period plastic devices can also lead straight to unwelcome tooth movements, changing the bite and worsening the problem. Furthermore plastic devices will become colonised by oral fungi and bacteria and quickly become unsightly and smelly.

The Somnowell Chrome oral device offers a long term dental solution in managing bruxism. The chrome cobalt does not suffer from wear and tear to the same extent as devices made of plastic and the metal is may times hared than even precious matals. Chrome cobalt is also highly resistant to oral fungi and bacteria.

The Somnowell Chrome appliance is worn during sleep and provides a barrier between the opposing jaws so that the patient's teeth cannot grind together. The Somnowell Chrome physically prevents the individual from moving the jaw backwards, this is commonly known as the 'recovery postition'. It also restricts the excursive movements of the jaws at night that may retrain and re-programme the patient, leading to a breaking of the habit (this has yet to be proven and is currently a clinical observation). The Somnowell Chrome indirectly holds the condyle heads of the jaw joint in the jaw sockets and may in this manner alter the mechanisms responsible for the bruxism habit. However the forces applied by the jaws are enormous and may cause the device to be distorted or damaged which may adversely affect the fit and success of the device. See guarantee conditions