What is Bruxism?
  • Admin
  • 2022-12-07 09:19:34

What is Bruxism?

An issue that affects over 80% of the population at some stage in their life, bruxism is the medical term for the grinding and/or clenching of the teeth and jaw. Left untreated, bruxism can lead to a number of side effects for the sufferer, which can be both painful and persistent.
Possible symptoms include:
-migraines and headaches on waking, 
-stiff neck and jaw, 
-ear ache, 
-poor sleep quality,
-teeth/jaw damage
With the exception of the latter, there is little that implies bruxism could be at the root of the problem, which is often the reason that it remains heavily overlooked and underdiagnosed in the UK.

The causes?

Why bruxism occurs is not always clear, though there are a number of contributing factors that could suggest why a patient may be clenching or grinding. 
The bruxizm organisation http://bruxism.org.uk/ suggests:
1.Stress - The highest cause of bruxism, most sufferers of stress and anxiety are often unaware that they are bruxing. These conditions, whether job or lifestyle related, can often lead to disrupted sleep patterns and restlessness.
2. Lifestyle - Substances such as tobacco, caffeine and alcohol have all been linked as co-factors of bruxism. Known to affect sleep, bruxism rates are significantly higher for individuals who use these psychoactive substances.
3. Sleep disorders - Snorers, and those suffering from obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)  or sleep paralysis are more likely to suffer from bruxism. OSA seems to be the highest risk factor, as the snorting and gasping can result in clenching and grinding.

How is it diagnosed?

A general lack of awareness amongst the public, and the wide array of symptoms, means that it is common for those exhibiting signs to consult their GP for advice without considering their dentist. Typically, this leads to ineffective treatments that do not stop the pain from occurring. Habitual bruxing will affect the
physical appearance of the teeth, with worn down incisors often present. If a patient expresses symptoms of bruxism, it is important to check for obvious dental signs, including tooth surface loss or cracked and broken or teeth. This should be closely monitored at each check up. In addition to dental issues, bruxism can cause referred muscular pain in the head and neck, abnormalities in jaw mobility and can also be a symptom of other conditions including Myofascial Pain Syndrome. Once correctly diagnosed, there are various treatment options for patients to take. 

What treatments are available?

Due to a high percentage of cases being caused by stress and anxiety, behavioural therapy may play an important role for some sufferers. Other treatment options include: muscle relaxants, as well as medications. However for habitual bruxers, an occlusal splint may be the only viable option. There are a number of splints and mouthguards available, including soft bite raising appliances, nightguards, and the SCi splint.

What iS an SCi?

An SCi is an occlusal splint that is placed over the upper or lower front teeth to reduce parafunctional intensity of the temporalis, masseters and the lateral pterygoids, eliminating posterior and canine contact. There are two versions of the SCi occlusal splint available: Chairside and Lab-made. Designed for manufacture by you in-surgery, the SCi Chairside kits contain all you need for immediate fitting and include 5 pre-formed splint matrixes. There are 5 kits to choose from: Starter, IGR Reduced Vertical, Increased Vertical, Daytime and Universal. The SCi+ (lab-made) reduces chair time and is made exclusively in our laboratory by our skilled technicians. The device made to the patient's specification, giving the option to increase retention with a full arch, or retain maximum comfort with the traditional partial arch design. a There are a number of SCi+ variations available and we can also build the discluding element into patient's retainers.

What evidence is there?

Whilst occlusal splints are often a preferred treatment choice for many, there are a wide variety available with some better than others. Off-the-shelf options offer a more cost effective solution for sufferers, but are often ill-fitting compared to one made by dentist, and usually result in low compliancy and little impact.
In a study by Okeson,(https://www.academia.edu/44984931/Jeffrey_Okeson_Management_of_Temporomandibular_Disorders_and_Occlusion_Mosby_Elsevier_2019_SEMINARIO_DTM) it was found that hard splints significantly reduced muscle activity in 80% of participants, whilst soft guards significantly increased activity in 50% (1987). The relaxation by altering the force SCi was developed to reduce bruxing- providing heightened muscle vectures, reducing EMG levels by as much as 80%.This treatment is a not a cure for TMD, but there is significantly reduces symptoms no better method on the market to switch off chronic bruxing.

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