Many people grind and clench their teeth (bruxism) during sleep, some to the extent that they suffer erosion of tooth enamel, severe headaches, pain in the face and neck, and insomnia. Although there isn’t a cure at this time, there are a variety of treatments that might help reduce the grinding and clenching. These include drug therapy, behavior therapy, and the use of dental appliances.
Efforts to reduce stress, such as biofeedback techniques, have shown some positive results but do not appear to remove symptoms. Acupuncture, physical therapy, and even yoga, have been helpful for some patients. Learning to recognize unwanted behaviors, together with instruction from a dentist, can be helpful.
Mouth guards protect teeth and act as a buffer to the pressure from the jaws. They have been shown in studies to actively reduce duration and frequency of bruxism episodes and have been shown to be at least as effective as other treatments in comparison studies. Perhaps most important, patients do not have to worry about side effects from drugs or from the appliance.
Most patients with bruxism can be treated successfully with a custom mouthguard and counseling. If you are suffering from nightly grinding and clenching, schedule an appointment to get on the road to relief!