The term Bruxism is derived from the Greek word “brychien,” meaning grind.
Clenching and grinding the teeth are parafunctional habits that can cause damage to the teeth and jaw, tired muscles and soreness of the face and jaw, and headaches. Bruxism (grinding) involves moving the jaw with the teeth held together, causing significant visible wear and flattening of the teeth. Clenching is holding the teeth together and tightening the jaw muscles. While there is less obvious wear to the teeth with clenching, it can result in considerable pain, muscular soreness, and jaw joint damage.
Bruxism can be caused by lifestyle, stress factors, medications, mental and physical disorders and malocclusion.
Clenching and grinding the teeth can be a serious problem. Clenching and grinding will noticeably shorten your teeth. In a relatively short period of time, regular tooth grinding will wear through nearly two millimeters of enamel on the tooth’s biting surface. Not only will patients end up with short, cracked and stubby teeth, but they will throw off the entire mechanics of their mouth, leading to numerous other problems.
The goal of treatment is to repair the teeth, reduce the habits of grinding and clenching and to minimize future damage. The process begins with a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation to determine the cause and severity of the problem. All viable treatment options are presented. A night guard is often suggested to help to immobilize the jaws during sleep.
Don’t allow bruxing and clenching to force you to hide your smile. Seek help. The sooner treatment begins, the better the prognosis.