Grinding of Teeth


Grinding or bruxing of teeth more often occurs at night. Stress is probably the biggest cause of bruxing. Habit is another cause.We cannot stop the grinding habit but what we as dentists need to do is prevent the damage to the teeth caused as a result of the grinding.

What happens if we do not intervene? The teeth are subjected to abnormally excessive forces. This firstly causes wear of the enamel of the teeth.

  • - Anteriorly this causes the edges of the teeth to become very thin and eventually to chip and break. Wear of the posterior teeth results in a drop in the vertical height of the teeth giving the face a fallen in appearance especially when eating.

Secondly, the nerves of the teeth may die. This may result in severe pain or sensitivity and a root canal is indicated to alleviate this problem

Thirdly, the drop in vertical height of the teeth due to loss of enamel may cause excessive strain and resultant wear and tear on the joint of the jaw. This could progress to pain on opening of the mouth when eating or yawning as well as clicking of the joint. This problem may become so bad that surgery may be the only solution to this problem.

So what do we do?

The patient to given a laboratory made Michigan splint which rests on either the upper teeth or lower teeth. The patient needs to sleep with the splint. The teeth will slide off the surfaces of the splint and the occlusal forces are distributed equally on the splint preventing further damage to the teeth and joint.

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