TMJ & Bruxism

What is Bruxism?

Have you ever been told that you grind your teeth?

Tooth grinding [bruxism] is a habit that involves clenching and grinding of the teeth. It is very common, approximately 50% of adults experience bruxism at some stage and 15% of children acquire this behaviour.

Most often, the habit goes unnoticed by the person. Bruxism can occur during the day or night. Long term, untreated bruxism can lead to extensive damage of the teeth necessitating costly reconstructive treatment.

Most people are unaware that apart from meal times teeth should not touch and your jaws should be relaxed during sleep. Even minor contact over time can cause damage to teeth and dental work (implants, crowns, caps, veneers, fillings, inlays, etc.). Headaches and jaw pain often come from tired and tense clenching muscles that are working when they should be resting.

What Causes Bruxism?

The condition has no specific cause, but is believed to be a combination of many factors, such as:

  • Emotional stress.
  • Personalities characterised as aggressive, controlling, precise, or people who have time, urgency and achievement compulsion tend to develop bruxism.
  • Malocclusion [teeth that are not aligned properly].
  • Children whose parents brux are more likely to develop this habit than children whose parents do not brux.

What are the Signs of Bruxism?

If you answer yes to any one of these questions Bruxism may well be causing significant problems:

  • Have you had wear, damage or fractures of teeth, fillings or crowns?
  • Do your teeth touch or make contact when not chewing?
  • Do you get headaches or jaw pain on occasions?
  • Are your temples or jaw muscles tender when pressed?
  • Has anyone heard you grind your teeth during sleep?
  • Do you have occasional discomfort when chewing?
  • Do you have a clicking jaw?

Problems Associated with Bruxism:

1.Wear on Teeth

If clenching and grinding is allowed to continue there may be damage to the nerves of your teeth resulting in pain and sensitivity. Left untreated tooth wear can become so severe that infection and dental abscesses can develop requiring expensive root canal therapy and crowns.


Crowns, veneers and fillings are very prone to fractures in the presence of Bruxism. A fracture, even if small, usually requires replacing the entire restoration. An extensive tooth fracture may require root canal therapy and a crown.

* Note: A great deal of time and money can be saved if dental work is protected from clenching and grinding.

3.Cosmetic Problems

Poor cosmetics and an aged appearance can result from unchecked tooth wear. When clenching and grinding is controlled a radiant smile can enhance beauty for a lifetime.

4.Jaw Pain and Headaches

A common cause of tension headaches, migraines and jaw pain is the overuse of clenching muscles when they should be resting. Overcoming Bruxism can allow tired, painful muscles to recover and headaches to disappear.

Increasing the Risk of Bruxism

There are several factors that increase the risk for future wear and damage from Bruxism.

  • Some medications, including certain antidepressants and stimulants, can increase the level of Bruxism.
  • Excessive intake of acidic drinks such as cola and fruit juice can also soften teeth.
  • Exposed dentine is another risk factor as dentine is much softer than enamel and can wear much more rapidly.

Are you at Risk?

Do you have any of the following?

Dry mouth Lack of lubrication from saliva increases the potential for tooth wear. This can be a result of dehydration, excessive alcohol, caffeine intake or certain medications.

Excessive acidity in the mouth Softens tooth substance and increases the potential for wear. This can occur from a high intake of fruit juice, cola soft drinks, sport drinks or stomach reflux.

Exposed Dentine Is softer than enamel and leads to accelerated tooth wear.

Stress and Anxiety Can lead to increased levels of Bruxism and also to reduced saliva.

Reaction to Medications Certain types are known to trigger Bruxism as well as reducing saliva.

Please contact us immediately if you think any of the above applies to you.

The BiteSoft™ Splint Solution

The BiteSoft™ splint is a removable mouthpiece that is worn over the teeth during sleep and is a very effective solution for Bruxism.
Features of the BiteSoft™ Splint:

  • comfortable to wear
  • smaller than a full arch splint
  • offers the same protection from bruxism as a full arch splint reduces clenching and associated head and jaw pain (unlike full arch splints)

The BiteSoft™ splint is easy to wear and almost invisible to others.

Every BiteSoft™ splint has a unique red coloured product authenticity code situated under the BiteSoft™ logo. The product authenticity code indicates the legitimacy of each BiteSoft™ splint and protects you and your dentist from unlawful copies.

Overcoming Headache and Jaw Pain
Many scientific studies demonstrate that splints are extremely effective in preventing or reducing headaches and jaw pain.

Further Indications for the therapeutic use of Splints
The use of a splint is recommended for all people who have Bruxism and may also be indicated (subject to correct diagnosis) for the following:

-Significant wear on teeth
-Crowns, veneers, implants & fillings
-Headaches and jaw pain

The use of segmental and full arch splints may result in a change to your bite if you have previously undergone orthodontic treatment or have an unstable bite. This is largely due to the relaxation of your jaw muscles. We recommend that you discuss any prior orthodontic treatment or bite problems with your dentist before proceeding with any form of splint therapy.

Other Methods for dealing with Bruxism

While a splint is a simple and effective method for dealing with Bruxism during sleep, speak to us about other methods that can help for daytime clenching. This involves learning to keep the lower jaw in the rest position, with the teeth apart when not chewing.

Stress Management
There is evidence that Bruxism can increase during times of stress and anxiety. Stress can also directly lead to muscle tension and pain. Seeking support in utilising the following methods will help deal with excessive stress and minimise bruxism.

Bruxism and Relaxation techniques to reduce stress:
-Muscle relaxation
-Relaxing Music
-Social support
-Goal setting
The best results in overcoming Bruxism can be achieved when jaw muscle relaxation, with the teeth apart during the day, is combined with the use of a BiteSoft™ splint worn during sleep.