Teeth Grinding


Excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth, is called bruxism, and is thought to be caused by physical or psychological stress, or a sleep disorder, which can lead to painful symptoms and lsevere dental problems.  If untreated, bruxism can cause excessive wear of the teeth leading to permanent damage of the teeth and sometimes of the jaw joints. Chronic teeth grinding can cause headache, earaches, facial pain, and  migraines, and waking up with a sore jaw.. Dental issues include loss and wear of tooth enamel, tooth sensitivity, and flattening and chipping of the teeth. The size of the jaw muscle can also increase due to tooth grinding and overuse of the jaw muscles which can lead to the a square looking jaw. 

Treatments involve repairing worn or damaged teeth with restorations, crowns or inlays, to replace the damaged tooth surface, and making an occlusal splint, or night guard, custom made from hard plastic that fits over the top teeth, and is worn at night to prevent further wear of the tooth surfaces, and to allow the jaw joint and muscles to relax. 




Disorders of the jaw joint, or TMJ (temporomandibular joint) are not uncommon and may lead to symptoms of pain and discomfort in the jaw called temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) . Patients may complain of earaches, headaches and a limited ability to open their mouth. Other symptoms can include clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint, pain when opening and closing the mouth, a general tightness and pain in the muscles of the jaw, or broken teeth due to the excessive forces. 

Muscle relaxant injections in the jaw muscles are a proven treatment option for targeting and treating excessive muscle activity. Other treatments, such as anti-inflammatory medications and occlusal splints or night guards may not address the source of the issue.  Custom made occlusal splints are able protect teeth from damage at night for teeth grinders, but they may not fully stop the painful side effects  because some people continue to grind away at their splint.

By injecting small doses of Botulinum Toxin Type A muscle relaxant  directly into the masseter muscle (the large muscle that moves the jaw), the muscle is weakened enough to stop involuntary grinding of the teeth and clenching of the jaw. This relaxes the muscle and reduces the wear and tear on the teeth due to grinding and amage to the TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and headaches should be reduced or eliminated as well, while voluntary movements, such as chewing and facial expressions, are not affected.

Although muscle relaxant injections are not a cure for bruxism, they can effectively control the uncomfortable symptoms better than a night guard for some patients. Botox used for treating bruxism typically lasts for three to four months.

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