I depend upon a variety of oral appliances that are used at night as sleep bruxism treatment for my patients. Although oral appliances do not stop grinding or clenching activity, they are extremely helpful in preventing or stopping compromise to the teeth, jaw muscles and temporomandibular joints (TMJs). These appliances produce the best results when custom-fit, monitored, and modified over time.
Over the counter night guards are available but the vast majority of them will not fit well. They tend to be big and bulky which can result in even more teeth clenching.
The exact mechanisms that make custom-fitted oral appliances so helpful for bruxism treatment have not yet been fully understood in the field. But my patient feedback over the years suggests that they are indispensable in the management of these problems. An oral appliance is not designed to move your teeth or rearrange your bite, but instead serves as a shock absorber and oral cushion. It may be designed to be worn on your upper teeth or your lower teeth, depending upon the nature of your problem. Most oral appliances will require some adjustments over time.
For most of my patients in NYC and Long Island, the use of a bruxism appliance is not a forever thing and the relief obtained by these devices is sometimes remarkable and can occur within a short period of time.
Other Bruxism Treatment
Along with oral appliances, there are a variety of medications that I sometimes prescribe to be used prior to bedtime as a sleep bruxism treatment. These include muscle relaxants and anti-anxiety medications such as Valium or Xanax. These drugs are very helpful over the short term as their calming impact on the mind leads to less aggressive teeth grinding and/or clenching.
Some supplements that are helpful in promoting restful sleep also seem to reduce night grinding for some patients. Melatonin, Tryptophan, Feverfew, calcium-magnesium preparations, and a variety of homeopathic remedies that are available over the counter are also in my toolbox.
Calming practices such as meditation and relaxation techniques prior to going to sleep can be helpful, as well.
Bruxism Cure: Botox?
The use of Botox to partially incapacitate jaw muscles has recently gained popularity as a bruxism treatment. Botox is not ever my first treatment choice, but it is effective for patients when another treatment has failed. Most patients require multiple Botox injections to experience real relief.
All of these options can be explored during your consultation in the office. I’m here to help you to stop the grind.
To read about the Connection between Sleep & Pain, link here.