Most people experience episodes of grinding the teeth. When it is done at night it is referred to as Bruxism. The cause is still unknown but the “wailing and gnashing of teeth is a time honored mechanism of dealing with our anxieties and frustrations.” Excessive grinding can destroy the teeth, and/or joints of the jaw. It will frequently cause the muscles that operate the jaw to grow stronger and larger and influence the shape of the face. Bruxism has now been reclassified as an involuntary movement disorder.
Management of bruxism by dentist consists of fabrication of a protective plastic device the fits over the teeth and protects them from tooth on tooth wear. The appliance is softer than teeth and wears away slowly but sometimes patients stop or decrease the active grinding when they use the appliance.
Excessive forces on the teeth will encourage the body to build stronger bone or it may loosen the teeth and promote bone loss. Bone loss around the teeth in conjunction with excessive grinding is a recipe for disaster.
Other infirmities associated with bruxism is sore muscles (myofacial pain dysfunction syndrome) and degenerative joint disease. Management of excessive grinding of the teeth consists of utilization of the plastic mouth guard and in more severe cases Botox and other medications can be used to subdue the excessive activity.