With the everyday stresses we all experience, it is very common for patients to clench or grind their teeth at night. This can cause excessive pressure and forces on the teeth that may result in pulpitis (inflammation of the nerve within the teeth), bone loss, and fracturing of the teeth. Excess force is also put on the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and the attached muscles and ligaments which can cause jaw pain, muscle tenderness or spasm, lockjaw, and trismus (inability to open the mouth). Sometimes patients may not be experiencing any symptoms at all, but tooth wear may suggest that grinding or clenching is taking place.
An occlusal appliance (nightguard), along with stress management, is often used to treat and prevent the problems associated with grinding and clenching. A custom nightguard is the best way to treat these problems since it is custom-made to fit the patient’s teeth and is made of very durable acrylic material. Due to the custom fit and high-quality material, they can be made to be less bulky and more comfortable which can increase compliance. An impression of the upper and lower teeth is all that is required to have a custom nightguard fabricated and can generally be made within two weeks.
Additionally, Botox injections can be effective for treating TMJ pain. Pain in and around the jaw joint can be caused by muscle clenching. If this is the case, Botox injections can reduce the activity of these muscles, and may provide relief. Botox is offered by Chestnut Dental dentists.