Bruxism/grinding of teeth

Bruxism is clenching or grinding of the teeth that is not a part of normal chewing movements. It can lead to excessive wear on the teeth and may cause permanent damage to the teeth and the jaw joints, chipping and breaking of teeth, and muscle tension headaches. In some adults and children, clenching and grinding may occur during the day or at night. They typically have no conscious control over this excessive clenching and grinding, particularly when it occurs during sleep.

Treatment aims to:

  • find and remove the causes of bruxism
  • change the behaviour that causes bruxism
  • repair the damage that bruxism often causes

Treating Bruxism

Dental therapy to treat bruxism aims to achieve changes in behaviour by teaching the patient how to rest the mouth.

  • An occlusal splint (also called a night guard) is an option for someone with mild to severe grinding behaviour. Worn at night, the splint is made from moulded plastic that fits over the upper or lower teeth. It prevents further wear of the tooth surfaces.
  • Biofeedback is a treatment option for people who primarily clench their teeth during the day. Biofeedback techniques use electronic monitors to measure tension in the jaw muscles. People use the monitors to learn how to relax their muscles and reduce tension. Newer biofeedback techniques are under development to treat
    night-time clenching.
  • Patients with severe tooth grinding problems often use a combination of splint and biofeedback techniques.
  • Some patients may require muscle relaxant tablets at night.

Repairing Damage to Teeth

Treatment may be necessary to repair damaged teeth. Dental fillings, crowns or inlays can replace damaged tooth surfaces. Root canal treatment may be required where tooth fractures extend into the pulp. In extreme cases, extraction of badly damaged teeth may be the only option. Partial dentures, dental bridges or implants can replace missing teeth. Orthodontic treatment can realign misplaced and crooked teeth.