Treatment of Teeth Grinding

Treatment of Teeth Grinding
There are two types of bruxism (teeth grinding).
  • Primary bruxism – no known cause
  • Secondary bruxism – caused from something else

Approximately 60% of the population will have Primary Bruxism, as a “normal” grinding habit. In other words, they grind their teeth at night as a normal habit of their sleep.

Bruxism is most effectively managed by treating the actual “cause.” In Primary bruxism, since there is no actual cause, management involves protecting the teeth and mouth from the damaging forces of bruxism. This can be achieved via a dental splint to protect the teeth from wear, and protect the muscles from overworking.

Causes of Secondary bruxism can include:
  • Sleep disorders (sleep apnoea, insomnia, restless leg syndrome)
  • Airway obstruction
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Traumatic injuries
  • Chronic pain
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Drugs/medications
  • Smoking
  • Caffeine and alcohol

Secondary bruxism is most effectively managed by treating the actual “cause.” This can involve many modalities, such as treating the sleep disorder, tonsil/adenoid removal surgery to clear the airways, managing stress, or changing/stopping certain medications.

As a result, sometimes a dental splint won’t manage the bruxism properly. The splint will only protect the teeth and muscles, but the patient will still grind their teeth.

If the cause of bruxism isn’t properly identified, sometimes a dental splint can worsen the problem. In patients with airway/breathing problems (such as obstructive sleep apnoea, OSA), an improperly designed dental splint can block the airway even more, making it harder for the patient to breathe, and hence, worsen their medical health. Special dental splints called Mandibular Advancement Splints (MAS) can be made for people with OSA to both manage their airways and protect their teeth from bruxism.

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