Did you know…? • On average, people have contact with their teeth about 7-10 minutes a night, while for people who suffer from bruxism this period can last hours. • The weight that our teeth bear when we grip them involuntarily can exceed 100 kg. • 20-30% of children grip their teeth at night, but most outgrow the problem.
We call bruxism the fierce gritting of teeth at night. When this condition occurs during the day and the night, we are talking about bruxomania. Most often, these bad habits are caused by intense emotional or physical stress. Think of those extreme situations where people clench their teeth with tension – for example, when a weightlifter pushes a weight, or a nervous driver makes his way through the morning traffic jam. Of course, everyone in an emergency responds in their own way, but quite often it happens by clenching their teeth.
Bruxism and bruxomania have a detrimental effect on the teeth, joints and muscles. The teeth are severely wiped and there are wedge-shaped defects in the cervical area. Patients with mandibular hypertrophied muscles often complain of “cracking” in the joints and increased sensitivity of the teeth. Because of the seriousness of the problem, we, as dentists, approach these patients extremely carefully, as any treatment taken depends on whether the patient will use their teeth for nourishment and smiles or for the accumulation of stress. It is important for us to have a detailed history in order to be able to find the cause of these conditions, and it is usually hidden in the work environment and the way the patient lives.
Using the classical approach, we have to exclude the neuromuscular compression reflex by placing a splint and raising the bite by few millimeters. However, this treatment is symptomatic, and the effect lasts only a few months before the patient begins to squeeze the splint itself. This way the problem persists. Modern methods, on the other hand, require a multidisciplinary approach, and it is very important for the patient to be aware of their condition and to assist in their treatment. Along with dental methods, we often seek the assistance of psychologists, hypnotherapists or therapists following alternative practices. The key is for the patient to understand what exactly unlocks his or her tooth clenching reflex and to make an effort to remove the causes of tension. Only when we are sure that the patient has overcome the psychic factor, we can begin a complete treatment of dental structures that have lost their integrity through abrasion.
Treatment may be prolonged. Bonding of the teeth is a great option to fix the problem. The dentists are required to monitor the patient and make appointments on a monthly basis and make sure the patient is on the right path to recovery.