Teeth grinding (bruxism) is a very common occurrence. For the majority of people it does not cause any problems, but it can have a negative effect over a period of time.
Grinding of the teeth and grating the teeth between each other with backward and forward movements, creates severe wear. Wear is usually not so evident when clenching the teeth together hard without moving them, however the teeth can show fissures which means small lines and the breakdown of enamel. Fractures of teeth and prostheses, or loss of fillings and decementation of crowns and bridges can also occur.
We make a custom, hard plastic guard to protect your teeth. This is an extremely skilled procedure because a new occlusion (bite) is created that is more stable than your own. This is worn at night, which is when most of the damage occurs. It avoids wear and damage to the teeth, because it prevents the teeth coming in contact, allowing just the contact between the teeth and the plastic appliance. The splint is not as hard as the teeth, therefore with time it will wear down – but the teeth will not. At the same time, it reduces the load to the supporting structures of the teeth and so will often result in the immediate relief from headaches.
This treatment adjusts your bite so the teeth meet evenly. It may involve your dentist trimming away some of the surface enamel or adding material to change the shape of the teeth. Many patients report that after having veneers fitted as a measure to control grinding, their biggest change is not the aesthetics, but finding they no longer suffer from headaches because as part of the treatment we can give them a better bite. Either way, the aim is to distribute the forces evenly over all your teeth.
We use Botox to help the muscles relax. Botox has been used for many years on medical conditions where the muscles go into spasm (e.g. Cerebral Palsy). It does not change your appearance in any way but it does relax the muscles that are tense due to stress, thereby limiting the damage bruxism causes.