Teeth Grinding: Should You Use a Mouthpiece?

What is Bruxism

Bruxism refers to excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth. It is a neuromuscular disorder that often presents itself when the patient is asleep. The cause of bruxism is not always clear, but it is widely understood that psychological stress is a root cause.

This condition causes debilitating facial muscle pain and discomfort around the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Teeth grinding wears away the tooth structure to the point where the surfaces of teeth appear flat and discolored, exposing the yellow inner layer (dentin). This is called attrition.

Bruxism can cause permanent dental lesions creating the need for root canals and crowns, exacerbating periodontal conditions and even causing tooth loss. Other symptoms like headaches, earaches and jaw pain are common. Complications like eating disorders, insomnia, teeth fractures, receding gum line, and depression can also be expected.

Patients who suffer from bruxism have a hard time getting dental restorations because the materials are rapidly worn away. This is why bruxism must be treated before dental restorations are considered.

The use of a mouthpiece or mouth guard is of great help and patients normally report tremendous relief. The mouthpiece is a guard for the teeth usually made of hard plastic with flat contacting surfaces; typically meant to be worn at night when the grinding begins, it protects the teeth as the surfaces of the mouthpiece glide on one another. It is designed to keep the jaw in a position where the muscles are relaxed. Mouthpieces reduce and can even eliminate muscular pain.

However, mouthpieces for bruxism may not completely cure this condition. Many patients report the return of symptoms when they stop using the mouthpieces. Alternative methods to help treat bruxism are recommended by many leading dental practitioners. Such methods include stress management therapy, massages and ice compresses, stretching, avoiding hard foods so as not to overwork the jaw, getting enough sleep, etc. Medication is also prescribed to help relieve the pain.

If you are interested in diagnosis and treatment for bruxism in Costa Rica, please fill out the “Help me find a Dentist!” form and a participating dental specialist will contact you to discuss your case.