Bruxism Treatment in NYC and Long Island
Bruxism is mostly associated with grinding and/or clenching your teeth unconsciously while you sleep, which is called sleep bruxism. When your upper and lower teeth are in constant contact it can cause significant injury to your teeth, your jaw muscles, or your temporomandibular joints (your TMJ’s, or jaw joints).
Causes of Sleep Bruxism
Despite ongoing research, the reasons why people grind and clench their teeth during sleep remains unclear. However, recent studies suggest that if your brain is aroused while you’re sleeping and (or) if your sleep is fragmented, you have a great chance of developing bruxism.
In many instances, it has also been shown that breathing restrictions that accompany obstructive sleep apnea (and/or less severe sleep-related breathing disorders) may also be responsible for the nightly occurrence of sleep bruxism.
What remains a puzzle is why some people who exhibit sleep bruxism suffer terribly from pain while others don’t. My patients usually arrive in pain and need of help fast. What I focus on first is diminishing the impact of bruxism – then I address the risk factors that got you in trouble in the first place.
Oral Appliances for Bruxism
The best method to reduce the impact of sleep bruxism is to wear an an oral appliance at night. Oral appliances do not stop grinding or clenching, but they are extremely helpful in preventing or stopping damage to the teeth, jaw muscles or temporomandibular joints (TMJs). An oral appliance is not designed to move your teeth or rearrange your bite, but serves as a shock absorber and oral cushion. It may be worn on the upper or lower teeth, depending on the nature of your problem, and will require adjustments over time. Sometimes a patient will use variety of different oral appliances at different times during the course of a week.
The best results are with oral appliances that are custom fitted, monitored, and modified over time. You can buy an over-the-counter night guard at your neighborhood pharmacy, but the vast majority are too big and bulky for the average person-and that can cause more clenching as you try to keep it inside your mouth.
Those of us in the field are still working to understand the mechanisms that make custom fitted oral appliances so effective for bruxism treatment, but the relief these devices provide for my patients is often remarkable and can occur within a short period of time. For most people their oral appliance for bruxism does not have to be used forever.
Other Bruxism Treatment
Along with oral appliances, a variety of medications are often prescribed prior to bedtime to treat sleep bruxism over the short term. These include muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications such as Valium or Xanax. Because these medications can have a calming impact on the mind, many patients experience less aggressive teeth grinding and (or) clenching when using them. Supplements that promote restful sleep can also be helpful to reduce night grinding for some patients such as melatonin, tryptophan, feverfew, calcium-magnesium preparations, and a variety of homeopathic remedies.
Meditation and relaxation techniques prior to sleep have proven to be helpful over time as a bruxism treatment, as well.
Bruxism Cure: Botox?
The use of Botox to partially incapacitate jaw muscles has gained popularity as a bruxism treatment and has its place in the management of the problems. Botox is not a first treatment choice, but it is safe and effective. Botox is helpful if you have tried every other conventional treatment but continue to suffer from jaw pain, headaches, and sore teeth. Many patients require multiple Botox injections over the course of a year to get real relief, it is another tool in my growing toolbox.
All bruxism treatment options are explored during a consultation in my office. I’m here to help you to stop the grind.