Bruxism (grinding or clenching)

Do you wake up with pain or sensitivity in your jaw or cheek muscles? Do you have a lot of headaches? Has somebody ever told you that you grind your teeth during the night? You may suffer from bruxism.

A lot of people suffer from bruxism during their life. According to the Canadian Dental Association, 10 to 15% of adults suffer from bruxism. For many of us, this is temporary and affects us only during certain situations but for others, it’s a recurring problem.

There are several signs which can indicate you suffer from bruxism; premature wear of your teeth, fissures or cracks in your enamel or your restorations, sensitivity of your teeth in the morning, a pain or stiffness in your jaws, popping sound or clicking when you open or close your mouth.

Bruxism may have a lot of causes; stress, anxiety, anger. Some medications can also cause bruxism as a side effect. A malocclusion can also cause grinding or clenching (when your bottom teeth and your upper teeth aren’t aligned properly).

Many kids (14 to 38%) may experience bruxism as soon as primary teeth erupt. It usually stops for many of them as they grow older. To prevent your children from grinding, a calm routine before bed is encouraged. A bedtime story as well as soft music may help to calm your child before going to bed.

To treat bruxism as adults, a professionally made night guard is usually recommended. A night guard is a clear appliance made especially to fit your teeth. It is custom made and it fits the biting surface of your teeth so that you can bite on the night guard rather than your teeth. It helps ease the pressure on your jaw muscles. This appliance is made to wear during the night or during the time where you grind or clench your teeth the most. For example, when you’re driving or when you watch television.

The treatment:

During your first appointment your dentist is going to take impressions of your teeth in order to send this impression to a lab. Your night guard is made to fit your teeth perfectly as well as the rest of your mouth.

During your second appointment your dentist is going to place the night guard and see if it’s comfortable. He/She will make adjustments if needed.

There is an adaptation period with your night guard. It is recommended to wear it during the day at first to get used to it. During the first week, you may wake up without your night guard, but it is important to continue to wear it until you get used to it. For more questions concerning night guards, please consult your dentist.