At the office of neuromuscular dentist Dr. Pamela Marzban, we are concerned not only about your oral health, but about how the conditions of your mouth and jaw can contribute to your overall health and happiness.
One condition that has tremendous potential to damage your teeth, but also to cause you long-term suffering is bruxism, the habit of clenching and grinding your teeth. Fortunately, there are three ways that we can help relieve your bruxism.
Myofunctional Therapy Can Alter Your Habits
For many people, bruxism is a habitual problem. We use our mouths for many things and once we develop habits, these habits can be hard to break on our own.
With a habit like bruxism, you probably don’t know you’re doing it until somebody points it out or you experience the negative side effects, such as jaw pain or headaches. It’s just something you have come to do when you think, when you’re worried, or when you’re distracted. Myofunctional therapy helps you get control of your oral habits so that you can stop your bruxing before it starts.
Other times, your body might be bruxing when you sleep. You don’t have any conscious control, but that doesn’t mean myofunctional therapy can’t help.
First, it’s important to remember that the function of our jaw during the day and the night are complementary. Bad habits during the day can contribute to undesired function at night. Establishing healthy posture, position, and habits during your daily routine can lead to better function and less bruxing at night.
The other factor is your anatomy and the configuration of your teeth and jaws. This has been partly determined by the motion and habits of your tongue and other muscles. Retraining your muscles can lead to anatomical changes that can improve the conditions that lead to sleep bruxism. For example, sleep bruxism is commonly associated with sleep apnea caused by a narrow airway. Myofunctional therapy can help expand your airway to alleviate breathing problems and contribute to healthy sleep–without bruxism.
The benefits of myofunctional therapy for bruxism have been documented in a clinical study. In this study, people saw a reduction in episodes of bruxism from 24 per hour to 9 per hours. Muscle tension reduced as well. Perhaps most importantly, people saw their pain reduce dramatically, from around 8 on a 10-point scale to less than 2.
A Bite Splint Can Reposition Your Jaw
Myofunctional therapy works, but it can take time. Sometimes, you need immediate relief because your symptoms are so disruptive or destructive.
Fortunately, a bite splint can often provide that relief. If the problem is that your jaw is constantly trying to find a comfortable rest position but instead grinds and grinds, the bite splint can put your jaw where it needs to be. This leads your muscles to relax and stops your tendency to clench and grind.
At first, you may wear the bite splint all the time. Later, you might switch to wearing it only at night.
Bite splints can be used in conjunction with myofunctional therapy, too. In this case, we might just utilize a protective mouthguard–one that keeps your teeth from being damaged as we work to resolve your bruxism.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Other Interventions
In some cases, oral habits are driven by outside circumstances. They are part of comprehensive coping mechanisms related to stress or other stimuli. In these cases, you might need therapy that approaches the problem comprehensively.
We don’t provide cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or other psychological treatments, but we know that they work and are vital to help some people resolve their bruxism.
If our exams show that your problem won’t respond to the treatments we offer, we will refer you to someone who can help. Our goal is to make sure that every patient finds relief, whether that’s at our office or elsewhere.
We Can Also Restore Teeth Damaged by Bruxism
Bruxism can be disastrous for your teeth. Once you’ve resolved your bruxism, it’s time to look at restoring your healthy, youthful smile as you enjoyed it before bruxism. With a combination of dental crowns, veneers, even dental implants if you lost teeth to bruxism, we can give you back your smile, or even give you the beautiful smile you’ve always dreamed of.
To learn more about how we can treat your bruxism and its effects, please call 703-323-8200 today for an appointment at the office of Dr. Pamela Marzban, serving northern Virginia from our office in Burke, VA.