It is the unconscious habit of clenching and grinding teeth together. There are two types of bruxism:
1 - Centric bruxism, which consists of clenching the teeth without side-to-side movements.
2 - Eccentric bruxism, which consists of grinding the teeth by moving the jawbone. The latter is easier to detect because the movement makes a noise.
The person is usually unaware of the habit and it almost always takes place at night.
Bruxism usually appears during times of stress. Signs of bruxism:
· Teeth wear on the chewing surface or erosions on the tooth necks. This wear causes a loss of enamel, exposing the dentine (the part of the tooth underneath the enamel), and this exposure may cause pain or sensitivity when drinking hot or cold liquids or even when brushing the teeth.
· Muscle or joint pain or discomfort, earache or headache caused by muscle tension.
· Noises made by the jaw joint when opening and closing the mouth.
· Loose teeth.
The treatment is normally aimed at preventing tooth wear and, above all, relaxing the muscles.
The most effective treatment is to make a mouth guard to measure for the patient which will enable the jawbones to be kept in a suitable position for relaxing the muscles, with a more stable joint position. It also helps protect the teeth and their supporting structures.
In more severe cases, it will be necessary to refer the patient to a physiotherapist to relax muscles that have become excessively tense. After treatment, the therapist will show the patient how to perform certain therapeutic exercises.