Bruxism, also known as clenching and grinding, occurs in most people at some point in their lives. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day. Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active, while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches, headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Seeking treatment for bruxism is important as it may cause gum recession, facial pain, occlusal trauma or wearing down of the teeth and in the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.
If you suffer bruxism, Dr. Kim will often recommend an acrylic mouthguard that can be designed from teeth impressions to minimize the abrasive grinding action during normal sleep. Mouthguards must be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage.