What is Bruxism?

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the medical term for jaw clenching and teeth grinding. It’s a relatively common problem that has an incidence rate of 8-20% amongst the general population. Bruxism has a variety of symptoms, including hypersensitive teeth, headaches, jaw pain, excessive teeth wear, and hypertrophy (enlargement) of the masseter muscle.

Bruxism is currently associated with various possible causes because the real cause is not yet known. Some say that it is a subconscious habit, while other research suggests that there may be a degree of inherited susceptibility involved. Some medications such as SSRIs (Prozac, Cipramil) and Parkinson’s disease drugs could also be risk factors. Even Ecstasy (MDMA) has been linked to this condition.

Several new studies indicate that a stressful lifestyle could be a major risk factor for bruxism – this is not conclusive but the evidence is growing. There are also many medical conditions that could be associated with the condition, including epilepsy, autism, and obsessive-compulsive disorder to name a few.

A bruxism diagnosis is usually obtained clinically or from observations obtained from the sufferer’s partner. Sometimes neurological tests such as an EEG are required to exclude epilepsy.

How do we treat bruxism?

Generally, a dental guard (occlusal splint) is all that is needed to protect the teeth and reduce bruxism – psychological interventions are sometimes also required. However, Botox has been the biggest game-changer for bruxism to date.

Injecting Botox into the masseter muscle (a muscle located on the sides of the jaw) causes partial paralyses of the muscle and lessens its ability to forcefully clench or grind the jaw. However, normal activities such as talking and eating are still possible.

The treatment usually lasts 3-4 months, where after top-up treatments are needed. With time, the masseter muscle will shrink, which will also help reduce the severity of this condition. As an added bonus, patients will be able to enjoy a slimmer facial profile due to the decreased size of the masseter muscle. In fact, many patients who don’t have bruxism often use Botox as a face-slimming solution.

If you suffer from bruxism or want a non-surgical way to slim your face, schedule an appointment with Dr Ed. Omarjee at The DOC Clinic.