Today we will talk about a very common topic that usually goes unnoticed and ignored both by the dentist and the patients. Our topic today is bruxism (teeth grinding) and clenching.
What are the difference between these two?
Clenching is when you’re squeezing your teeth and jaw tightly together, while bruxism is grinding the teeth against each other with movement right and left. These two share similar signs and symptoms that are very helpful for us to diagnose the situation, and help us to stop it or treat the further damage to the teeth.
Signs and symptoms for bruxism and clenching are usually similar with each other. The most common ones as worn out and sizable edges and cusps of the back teeth and front teeth, gum rescissions and cervical abfractions. Abfraction is when the enamel is lost, broken off and the dentine which is the sensitive part of the tooth is exposed. These two conditions both gum rescissions and abfractions do cause teeth sensitivity.
Non-dental related issues could be hypertrophied muscles of the face, especially masseter and temporalis muscle; chronic facial pain and headaches especially in the morning and also during out the day. Grinding can happen silently. That means you are not aware of it and even your sleeping partner does not hear that you’re grinding your teeth. But even sometimes it could be too loud that another person in your next room can hear that you’re grinding your teeth against each other.
Let’s talk about the night guards that help us how to prevent the further damage the teeth, gums, joints, and the facial muscles.
We have two types of night guard.
One is the full coverage night guard. It’s very soft, flexible, and easy to wear. And when the patient wears this, they are protecting the teeth from grinding. But still there is constant pressure and activity happening on the joints and the muscles. So some symptoms such as headaches the chronic facial pains which usually is seen in the mornings still persist.
The second type of the night guard is NTI (nociceptive trigeminal inhibition). This is a piece of acrylic. It’s very tiny very small. This is also very easy to wear. It usually fits on the four front teeth. And when the patient wears it, the back teeth are completely out of bite and occlusion. And there is no bite force on the joint and muscles. So at the same time we are protecting the teeth, the gums, our temporomandibular joint, and the muscles of temporalis, and especially the masseter muscles.
Hope this topic was useful for you.