Grinding and clenching
In many cases, treatment isn’t necessary. Many kids outgrow bruxism (tooth grinding) without treatment, and many adults don’t grind or clench their teeth badly enough to require therapy. However, if the problem is severe, treatment options include certain dental approaches, therapies and medications.
If you or your child has bruxism, your dentist may suggest ways to preserve or improve your teeth. Although these methods may prevent or correct the wear to your teeth, they may not stop the bruxism:
- Splints and mouth guards. These are designed to keep teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding. They can be constructed of hard acrylic or soft materials and fit over your upper or lower teeth.
- Dental correction. Correcting teeth that aren’t properly aligned may help if your bruxism seems to be related to dental problems. In severe cases — when tooth wear has led to sensitivity or the inability to chew properly — your dentist may need to reshape the chewing surfaces of your teeth or use crowns. In certain cases, your dentist may recommend braces or oral surgery.
Certain therapies may help relieve bruxism, such as:
- Stress management – If you grind your teeth because of stress, you may be able to prevent the problem with professional counselling or strategies that promote relaxation, such as exercise or meditation.
- Behaviour therapy – Once you discover that you have bruxism, you may be able to change the behaviour by practicing proper mouth and jaw position. Ask your dentist to show you the best position for your mouth and jaw.
- Biofeedback – If you’re having a hard time changing your habits, you may benefit from biofeedback, a form of complementary medicine that uses monitoring procedures and equipment to teach you to control muscle activity in your jaw.
In general, medications aren’t very effective for treatment of bruxism, and more research is needed to determine their effectiveness. Examples of medications that may be used for bruxism include:
Muscle relaxants. In some cases, your dentist may suggest taking a muscle relaxant before bedtime, for a short period of time.
OnabotulinumtoxinA (BTX) injections. BTX injections may help some people with severe bruxism who don’t respond to other treatments.
If you develop bruxism as a side effect of a medication, your dentist may change your medication or prescribe a different one.