Bruxism is the medical term for tooth grinding or clenching, in response to stress, and can lead to serious dental and health problems. Excessive pressure from tooth grinding often results in damage to teeth, headaches, facial pain, or even development of another condition called TMD (“temperomandibular dysfunction”), commonly referred to as TMJ. Traditional dental care has found ways to treat some symptoms but has not been able to provide a complete answer for people who grind their teeth. There are three categories of people who grind their teeth that may result in different treatment options.
- Some people find they grind their teeth only at night while sleeping and have also been told that they snore regularly. This combination has been scientifically linked to sleep apnea, and we now offer special therapuetic mouth guards that are recommended as an alternative to CPAP machines.
- Many people only grind at night while asleep, but show no other signs of sleep apnea. In those cases, a bite guard can be worn to prevent damage to the teeth, but it does not address the underlying clenching of the jaw muscles. So, while the teeth are protected, jaw pain, TMJ and headaches may still occur.
- Those who clench their teeth during the daytime, when the use of a bite guard hinders speach, chewing, etc.
Botox® as a Tooth Grinding Treatment
A relatively new Tooth grinding treatment is the use of Botox® injections. Known to most of us as a cosmetic tool used for reducing wrinkles, Botox has actually proven to be a very useful therapeutic treatment for muscle related problems. Small injections of Botox into the muscles of the face act as muscle relaxers, and aid in re-training the muscle to not hyper-respond. While relaxing the jaw muscles isn’t a cure for teeth grinding, Botox has been proven effective at reducing pain and damage from grinding and clenching in scientific studies. Using Botox as a tooth grinding treatment may help reduce or eliminate facial pain, tooth damage and headaches associated with tooth grinding for three to six months per treatment. Treatments take only a short time and consist of several small injections into your jaw muscles. Your ability to smile, eat and talk normally will not be affected. In a couple of days to a week, patients usually feel the difference. Botox has a long history of safety for both cosmetic and therapeutic uses, and often produces few side effects. Dr. Schraw has undergone specialized training in the use of Botox, and she is a member of the American Academy of Facial Esthetics.