Treatment Options For Teeth Grinding

by Samantha on January 6, 2011

Teeth grinding, called bruxism, is characterized by the involuntary grinding and gnashing of teeth or jaw clenching. In most cases, the teeth grinding is mild and treatment isn’t needed. Any children that develop bruxism typically outgrow it when they enter adolescence. For more severe cases, there are several treatment options to be considered.

Stress management may be a helpful treatment if you’re grinding your teeth due to stress. By going through counseling or learning some strategies that help you relax, you may be able to reduce your stress. Such things as meditation and exercise can contribute to your stress management. For a child with bruxism due to fear or tension, it might help if the child can talk about these fears prior to bedtime or read a lighthearted book.

There are also dental treatments that can be employed. Your dentist may suggest a splint. This is made from hard acrylic and fits over the lower and upper teeth. They can be made in the dentist’s office or sent away to a laboratory. A mouth guard is something else that your dentist may recommend. These can be bought over the counter or from your dentist. These don’t cost as much as splints but usually don’t fit as well and may come loose during teeth grinding.

Another way that your dentist can treat bruxism is by correcting your misaligned teeth. Severe cases of bruxism can lead to being unable to chew properly as well as sensitivity. Your dentist may choose to use crowns or overlays to totally change the shape of your teeth’s chewing surfaces. Something to keep in mind, though, is that this type of treatment will be very costly and while it corrects the teeth, it might not stop your teeth grinding.

You may be instructed on how to change your behavior by practicing correct mouth and jaw position. This is done by concentrating on putting your tongue up with your teeth apart but your lips closed. This is an exercise that should prevent you from grinding your teeth and clenching your jaw.

If you’re not successful with changing habits, you may want to try biofeedback. This is a type of alternative and complementary medicine that employs various monitoring procedures along with equipment that teaches how to control involuntary body responses.

A biofeedback session has electrical sensors attached to different parts of the body. They monitor your body’s physiological responses to stress, like teeth grinding. This information is fed back to you through visual and auditory cues, such as a flashing light or a beeping noise. Using this feedback, you’ll associate clenching or teeth grinding with stress and learn behavior change. Portable biofeedback devices are available to you for home use.

Typically, medication isn’t very effective when it comes to treating bruxism. Sometimes, doctors will give you a prescription for muscle relaxants to take at bedtime. However, if your bruxism is a side effect of a medication you’re taking, the doctor may put you on a different medication. Injections of botulinum toxin, or Botox, can help some severe bruxism cases that haven’t been helped by other treatments.

The best treatment for you is something that should be decided between you and your dentist rather than just taking some stabs in the dark.

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