Bruxism: Dental And Non-Dental Treatments For Tooth Grinding

Posted on: 11 June 2015

Bruxism, or grinding your teeth, can range from a minor annoyance to a serious dental problem. Some people may grow out of grinding their teeth or do it so lightly that the wear on their teeth is minimal. But in cases of more severe bruxism, the problem must be treated to prevent the protective enamel from wearing completely away from the deeper parts of the tooth.

Treatment for bruxism also varies quite a bit depending on the severity of the wear; further complicating things is the fact that different people respond to different treatments. It's not always clear what causes bruxism, so dentists and patients are often left to fight symptoms rather than underlying causes. For this reason, it's important not to give up if one treatment doesn't work; you never know which remedy will end up being the one that finally fits.

Mouth Guards

Dentists can make mouth guards in a variety of materials, and they are generally used by people who grind involuntarily in their sleep. Since this involuntary grinding can't be consciously stopped, the guard separates the teeth to prevent it.

However, mouth guards aren't without downsides. They can be uncomfortable, and some people find it difficult to sleep while wearing them. And the worse the case of bruxism, the sturdier the material of the mouth guard must be to prevent grinding.

Sleeping Disorder Treatments

Sleep bruxism often goes hand-in-hand with other disorders such as sleep apnea, insomnia, or disrupted sleeping. These patients sometimes find that treating the sleep disorder helps with their bruxism. By seeing a doctor and undergoing a sleep study, patients can find out if they have these sleep disorders, presenting a possible non-dental way to reduce tooth grinding.

Even without a diagnosis of sleep disorder, it can be worthwhile to try to improve your sleep hygiene. By avoiding late-night caffeine and alcohol, as well as trying to go to bed and wake up at a regular time each day, some people may find relief through improved quality of sleep.

Stress Treatment

Another possible underlying cause of bruxism – whether done while asleep or awake – is stress. Many people use meditation, yoga, and other home relaxation techniques to reduce their stress.

However, if your stress is very high, home relaxation techniques may not be enough. You may then find therapy and the techniques learned in therapy to be invaluable. In some cases, referrals to a psychiatrist for anti-anxiety medication may even be called for.

Dental Crowns

When bruxism has led to a lot of wear on the teeth, your dentist may recommend dental crowns. By replacing the worn tops of teeth with crowns, the underlying dental pulp can be protected, and teeth are much less likely to crack. And while tooth enamel is incredibly hard, crowns made of materials such as zirconia, gold, or porcelain hold up even better against grinding, greatly slowing the amount of wear.

Since it's still possible for crowns to be worn away, dental crowns are often used in conjunction with other treatments the dentist, like the ones at Wigwam Dental Care, would most like to both protect the teeth and prevent the grinding. But when it comes to restoring and protecting the structural integrity of the tooth, dental crowns are the best option.