Teeth Clenching & Grinding

What is clenching and grinding indicative of?

A common condition that is thought to affect up to 80% of the population at some stage in their life, the grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw can cause a number of debilitating side effects if left untreated. However, Bruxism – as the condition is medically known – remains one of the most overlooked and underdiagnosed conditions.

What is Bruxism?

Many people grind and/or clench their teeth without problem. However, a large number of people suffer severe symptoms. Left untreated, Bruxism can lead to a number of side effects for the patient. Many of these may not appear to be dentally related, when, in fact, they are.

Whilst Bruxism can occur during waking hours, the vast majority of cases happen subconsciously during sleep and are typically associated with stress and/or anxiety.

Involving some of your most powerful muscles, studies have shown that during sleep, patients generate much higher forces than is possible whilst awake - with possibly severe consequences for the sufferer. It is common for patients to turn to their GP and have investigations for other medical conditions when suffering from Bruxism.

What are the signs of Bruxism?

Unfortunately, a general lack of awareness amongst the public of the symptoms that can arise from clenching and grinding means that many people suffering from Bruxism go undiagnosed. Common effects can be:

  • Headaches and migraines
  • Facial myalgia (aching jaw and face muscles)
  • Tinnitus and sinus pains
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Tooth wear and mobility
  • Broken fillings
  • Receding or inflamed gums
  • Tongue scalloping
  • Clicking or popping jaw joint
  • Tooth loss or cracked teeth

Are there treatments available?

There are a number of potential treatments for Bruxism, including behavioural therapy, Botox, muscle relaxation exercises, as well as the use of dental splints.

Also known as Occlusal Splints, there are a number of designs available. Examples include:

  • Sleep Clench Inhibitor (SCi)
  • Soft mouthguards - also called Bite-Raising Appliances
  • Michigan or Tanner splints - full arch designs
  • Nightguards - various designs

The above splints all aim to prevent wear and damage to the teeth and joints, some serving as a protective barrier between the teeth. A key product in the dental splint market is the Sleep Clench Inhibitor (SCi), which utilises a different principle of protection and is more effective in treating symptomatic patients (e.g. tension-type headaches).

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