Bruxism and occlusal night guard

What is bruxism?

“Bruxism” is the grinding or clenching of teeth outside periods of chewing or swallowing. It can occur day and night but grinding is dominant during sleep. Bruxism is a problem that affects both adults and children. Although the exact causes of it are not known, anxiety and stress during the day could accentuate its onset. During sleep, there would be excessive activation of breathing and heart rhythm associated with a regular sleep pattern. This phenomenon could trigger nocturnal bruxism.

The treatment of bruxism

To date, there is no solution to act on the cause of bruxism. The proposed treatments therefore aim to reduce tooth friction to limit their harmful effects. Initially, your dentist will take the time to properly assess your dental condition through an examination but he will also ask you about your lifestyle habits. It is important to understand that some people have temporary episodes of bruxism triggered by a passed situation or event. For example, a more stressful period due to a school exam period or divorce. Indeed, some people will occasionally suffer from bruxism and subsequently everything will return to normal. In this case, these few tips will often be enough to help them during this unpleasant period:

  • Application of heat to muscles and joints of the face (example with a magic bag)
  • Massage of facial muscles to relax them with circular movements
  • Avoid chewing gum or other substances for long periods at a time
  • Avoid opening your mouth too wide
  • Avoid foods that are difficult to chew
  • If necessary, your dentist will prescribe a muscle relaxant to reduce muscle stress
  • If necessary, your dentist will prescribe a medication to reduce pain and inflammation

In the event that bruxism is chronic (which often happens), it will then be necessary to opt in addition to the measures mentioned above to wear a device called: The occlusal plate or night guard.

How do I know if I’m doing bruxism?

For many people, bruxism is an unconscious habit. They don’t even realize what they’re doing until someone tells them that they make a horrible noise with their teeth while they sleep. During the night, a person with bruxism can rub his teeth 6 to 8 minutes in a row!!! Several symptoms can tell you that you suffer from this disorder:

  • You feel muscle tension
  • Wake up with migraines
  • You feel pain in your facial joints
  • Congestion of the ears
  • You have a limitation when opening your mouth
  • You feel tired when you wake up
  • You have noticed an increase in the volume of the jaw muscles

When it is chronic, the grinding of the teeth causes serious damage to the teeth and the jaw. The consequences on teeth are wear, which can reach the nerves and even cause them to fracture. Indeed, bruxism causes abnormal wear of the teeth (very sharp, cracked or fractured side) as well as breakage in fillings, crowns or dentures. You will also notice increased sensitivity to acidic or sweet foods and temperature changes.

What is an occlusal plate?

The occlusal plate is a rigid acrylic device that is usually worn at night and prevents the upper teeth from coming into contact with the lower teeth. It attaches to the chewing surface of the teeth of the lower or upper jaw and allows you to bite on the plate rather than on the teeth. First we will do a 3D scan of your mouth with our Cerec device. Our 3D printer will then reproduce your tooth models in a resin. And finally, we will tailor your occlusal plate in our in house laboratory.

When worn every night and sometimes during the day (as the case may be) this device promotes the relaxation of the joints and muscles of your jaw. Its mission is also to “deprogram” the jaw by balancing the pressure on the teeth uniformly. It reduces your tendency to clench or grind your teeth. Thus, it will protect your teeth from wear and fractures. The life of your device is normally based on the amplitude of the bruxism. It is recommended to replace your plate once it has a crack or perforation. For most patients, such wear requires several years. However, a severe bruxer could manage to pierce his plaque in a few years or even a few months!!! Some cases will require an evaluation in sleep medicine if, for example, the pain is very severe, there are teeth breathing at night. Your dentist will then make sure to refer you to a health professional appropriate to this situation.

For more information on bruxism and the occlusal plate, do not hesitate to contact our dental team.