Also known as bruxism
Bruxism is the involuntary, non-functional, and forceful clenching, grinding, or rubbing of teeth which often occurs in sleep. Millions suffer from this condition, and many might not be aware of it until their dentist advises them of it. In fact, recent estimates show that up to 25% of children and 30% of adults suffer from it [1, 2].
Bruxism causes a variety of problems
Evidence suggests that patients with bruxism are prone to:
- excessive wear of tooth enamel
- development of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder
- gum disease (aka periodontitis)
- dental implant failure
- masseteric hypertrophy (“square jaw”) or misaligned jaws [3, 4]
How to reduce the grinding and its damage
Reduce stress, smoking, insomnia
Bruxism is associated with stress, cigarette smoking, and insomnia, so reducing stress, treating underlying anxiety issues, stopping smoking, and practicing good sleep hygiene helps. But often this isn’t enough to fully treat the problem.
Wear a night guard to bed
An oral night guard is often recommended by physicians and dentists. It can reduce trauma to your tooth enamel caused by grinding. But many patients find it difficult to wear night guards consistently, and even when night guards are consistently worn, the guards do not stop the chewing muscles (masseters) from contracting, which means many of the problems caused by nocturnal biting and chewing persist.
Botox might help save your teeth
Botulinum toxin A (Botox®) can help to reduce problems associated with bruxism. Historically, surgical treatment was used for severe teeth grinding. More recently, many patients are finding relief for their teeth with Botox injections[5, 6]. Botox has long been injected to sculpt the jawline. And, injections in this same region of the face are providing much-needed teeth grinding relief for thousands of patients. Using Botox to treat tooth grinding is currently an off-label use—the FDA has not yet approved this drug for this use. However, like many other drugs, like the use of Botox for depression or fluoxetine for anxiety, millions are benefiting from the therapeutic effects.
The amount of Botox needed to achieve therapeutic results varies from person to person. Typically it is 10 to 60 units on each side. The injections take effect in about two weeks, and the effects can last from three to six months. There are some possible adverse effects: the treatment might temporarily reduce bite strength, create minor muscle pain, or in some cases create facial asymmetry or prominent cheek bones. Your doctor can help you decide if Botox is right for you.*
Ask your doctor
For this type of Botox treatment, see a physician, surgeon, or dentist that is skilled and experienced in this type of Botox injection. Not all Botox providers will have the skills, knowledge, or experience to provide this treatment successfully.
More info about Botox
Prevalence and risk factors of sleep bruxism and wake-time tooth clenching in a 7- to 17-yr-old population. Eur J Oral Sci. 2011 Oct;119(5):386-94. Epub 2011 Aug 12.
Prevalence of Temporomandibular Disorders in an Adult Brazilian Community Population Using the Research Diagnostic Criteria (Axes I and II) for Temporomandibular Disorders (The Maringá Study). Int J Prosthodont. 2015 Nov-Dec;28(6):600-9. doi: 10.11607/ijp.4026.
Risk factors associated with early implant failure: A 5-year retrospective clinical study. J Prosthet Dent. 2016 Feb;115(2):150-5. doi: 10.1016/j.prosdent.2015.07.020. Epub 2015 Nov 3.
Association of sleep bruxism and dental plaque factors on signs of periodontal disease in children in the mixed dentition. J Paediatr Dent. 2016 Jan 30. doi: 10.1111/ipd.12224
Urinary catecholamine levels and bruxism in children. J Oral Rehabil. 1999;26(2):103.
A clinical evaluation of botulinum toxin-A injections in the temporomandibular disorder treatment. Maxillofac Plast Reconstr Surg. 2016 Jan 28;38(1):5. eCollection 2016.
Botox is a registered trademark of Allergan, Inc.
* Your results may vary.