Grinding/clenching (Bruxism) and Sports mouthguards
Grinding and clenching is something we usually do when sleeping, but sometimes when awake and can cause permanent damage to your teeth, gums and jaw joint (temporomandibular joint – TMJ). Stress or an incorrect bite can cause the onset of grinding which may be constant or periodic.
Signs and symptoms include:
- Sensitivity to hot/sweet/cold due to the outside enamel layer wearing away and exposing the inner sensitive layer.
- Headaches or facial pain due to muscle tension.
- Pain from the jaw joint on opening or closing.
- Recession of the gums - when the gums shrink away due to the trauma of consistent grinding.
- Difficulty opening as wide as normal or the inability to close which is called “lock jaw.”
- Loose teeth or cracks in the teeth.
- Ear aches, ringing in the ears or hearing loss.
Treatment of Grinding or Clenching:
- Heated compress (heat pack) on the area of sore facial muscles or jaw joint. The heat will release tension in the muscles and ease the pain.
- Prescribe muscle relaxant medication in severe cases where headaches are debilitating, in conjunction with inflammation pain medication.
- Occlusal splint: A small but strong plastic dental guard which is worn at night to prevent further wear of the teeth. It may also make you less inclined to grind or clench during the night. There are two types of splints; the first has a cushioned inside layer with a hard outer layer, the second type is a much harder acrylic based splint for severe cases.
- Your teeth should only be together during eating, so if you are grinding or clenching during the day you will need to consciously break the habit or wear a guard in severe cases.
- Osteopaths are also able to provide treatment
Sports mouthguards are an extremely important part of preventing trauma during contact sports. Our dental professionals take moulds of your teeth and within two weeks will create a mouthguard specific to your teeth, in a range of colours. For kids with orthodontics, our Dental Prosthetist can create a mouthguard to enable space for the braces and movement of teeth.