Dental Damage and Bruxism
Commonly referred to as teeth grinding or clenching, bruxism is a serious dental condition that can lead to a wide range of issues. Because bruxism commonly occurs during sleep, many patients do not even realize they are suffering from the condition.
As a result, damage can continue for weeks, months, or years. By the time many individuals realize there is a problem, they have already sustained dental damage. Fortunately, there are treatment options at our San Antonio, TX practice that can prevent and treat dental damage caused by bruxism.
What Causes Bruxism?
There are a number of factors that can contribute to bruxism. In many cases, patients clench or grind their teeth when they are under excessive amounts of stress. In addition, bruxism can develop as the result of misaligned teeth or an abnormal bite. The condition may also exist separately or in conjunction with TMJ disorder.
Types of Dental Damage Caused by Bruxism
If left untreated, bruxism can lead to more serious oral health concerns. Some of the most common effects of teeth grinding include:
- Tooth erosion: Clenching or grinding causes excessive friction between the teeth. Eventually, this can erode the enamel, the outermost protective layer of a tooth. When the enamel wears thin, the teeth are more susceptible to decay and breakage.
- Abfraction lesions: Constant bruxing can cause notches to develop in the teeth roots along the gum line. Known as abfraction lesions, these areas make the teeth vulnerable to decay.
- Attrition: Caused by extreme friction, attrition causes the biting surfaces of the teeth to flatten, wearing down the enamel in the process.
- Chips, cracks, or fractures: If left untreated, bruxism can cause stress-induced fractures.
- Tooth decay: By nature, bruxism weakens the tooth structure. Anytime this occurs, the teeth are more vulnerable to cavities.
- Gum recession: Excessive pressure can eventually cause the gum tissue to recede away from the teeth, exposing the roots.
- Tooth mobility: Constant clenching or grinding can cause the teeth to become loose. In addition, if gum recession occurs, the underlying bone follows suit. As a result, the teeth can become mobile.
- Tooth loss: The longer bruxism continues without treatment, the more serious the incurred damage. Ultimately, this could lead to tooth loss. Additionally, the teeth may need to be extracted depending on the severity of the situation.
Treatments for Bruxism
Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available to reduce or eliminate the effects of bruxism. Some of the most common therapies include:
- Oral appliance therapy: The most common treatment at our practice is oral appliance therapy. To prevent dental damage from bruxism, a custom mouth guard is fabricated. These devices are designed to fit comfortably over the teeth, providing protection from excessive forces.
- Orthodontic treatment: If your teeth grinding is due to misalignment or a bite issue, orthodontic treatment can be completed to correct the problem. Once treatment is complete, the bite forces should be more evenly spaced across your teeth.
- Medications: In some cases, medications are recommended for bruxism treatment. For instance, if your condition is due to stress, anti-anxiety medication may be prescribed. In some cases, a muscle relaxer may be recommended.
- BOTOX® injections: Patients with bruxism may be able to find relief with BOTOX injections. This product temporarily limits muscle movement and may therefore be able to reduce or eliminate symptoms.
Contact Our Practice to Learn More
If you notice the signs or symptoms of bruxism, it is important to seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid further damage. Contact us online or give us a call at (210) 349-3745.