Typical teeth grinding almost always happens during sleep and causes the upper and lower jaw to make rubbing movements against each other. This produces the characteristic grinding sound. During teeth grinding, the masticatory force can be increased up to tenfold. In extreme cases, the pressure can last for up to 40 minutes. If the teeth are rubbed against each other with strong pressure, the tooth substance is gradually broken down (abrasion) and the teeth are permanently damaged. In addition, the temporomandibular joints and the masticatory muscles are strained and become painfully tense.
Patients affected by bruxism are often more subject to get loose teeth, gingivitis, myoarthropathy (masticatory dysfunction), head and neck pain, visual disturbances, tinnitus and even scoliosis and pelvic obliquity.
Jaw clenching as well as lip and tongue pressing usually happen while the affected person is awake. There are also cases in which chewing and biting movements are performed. In this case, the pressure of the jaws is similar to that of grinding and the damage is also comparable.
A grinding guard, also known as Michigan splint, is a plastic oral appliance that acts as a protective coating on the teeth. It cannot directly prevent clenching and grinding, but because it is softer than the tooth enamel, the latter is no longer destroyed by grinding.
The grinding guard is custom-made and protects your teeth from the consequences of bruxism. When you grind your teeth, your masticatory muscles work with a bite force of up to 10 times compared to normal chewing. The grinding guard distributes these forces evenly, thus relieving your jaw muscles and protecting your teeth from wear and tear. The procedure for producing a grinding guard is similar to that of aligners, but is more complex, as 2 layers are applied on top of each other.
The dentist takes a painless 3D scan of the dental arch, and based on this scan a tooth model is 3D printed, which is then covered with a PET film. The film takes the exact shape of the dental arches and fits the patient’s teeth perfectly for optimal protection.
Causes that trigger grinding and jaw clenching include misaligned teeth and poor fillings. As a result, new movement patterns that lead to grinding can develop. These causes can be easily identified and corrected by experienced dentists.
Other common causes are sleep disorders, anxiety, smoking, use of alcohol or drugs, use of certain medications, mental and neurological diseases. Even for experts, it is often difficult to clearly distinguish between these causes. Anxiety, for example, can trigger sleep disorders and anxiety can in turn be caused by drug use.
The most common cause is a very stressful lifestyle. This causes doubts, aggressions and fears to not be brought out and overcome, and emotions are directed inwards. Problems at work, financial stress or family issues may also play an important role. Those affected often unconsciously relieve this stress by clenching and grinding their teeth.
The treatment options are as varied as the causes. To choose the right treatment, the cause of bruxism should be determined by a specialist. Medication and Botox can only temporarily relax the jaw muscles. Grinding guards can correct the resting position of the jaw and protect the teeth.
Since the causes are often stress, depression, anxiety or other psychological and neurological disorders, usually only a concomitant therapy can really cure bruxism. The type of therapy that is recommended has to be determined individually by a doctor. If the cause is of a somatic nature, a massage therapy or a dental correction may help. However, if the cause is psychological, the best treatment is psychotherapy.
bestsmile relies on experienced dentists and offers orthodontic treatments using state-of-the-art technology. Over 35,000 patients have already found their new smile thanks to our bestsmile Aligner braces. Our most recent product is the Relax retainer, a swiss made grinding guard that protects from bruxism. If you suffer from teeth grinding, our experienced dentists will be happy to offer you advice on a possible treatment. Our practices are located all throughout Switzerland, even in your area.