Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding, gnashing or clenching unrelated to normal oral function. There are two types: sleep bruxism and awake bruxism. The underlying cause of this condition remains unknown, but contributing factors include:
- Anxiety, stress and anger
- Misalignment of teeth
- Missing teeth
- Genetic predisposition
- Young age
- Tobacco, drug and alcohol use
- Certain medical conditions
- Certain medications
In cases of sleep bruxism, the patient grinds their teeth at night. It is not uncommon for the tooth grinder to be totally unaware of their habit until they have already suffered tooth damage or jaw pain, or until their partner alerts them of loud noises that may originate from the grinding.
By contrast, someone is likely aware they have awake bruxism, but they may not notice their tendency day-to-day. Like nail biting, foot tapping or hair twisting, bruxism can be a response to emotional triggers. It is often difficult to redirect that energy or quit cold turkey.
The Effects of Bruxism
The good news is that many people experience some form of bruxism, so if you also grind your teeth, you are not alone. However, the severity of bruxism makes a huge difference in the level of dental damage incurred. Effects can range from mild to severe. If you’re unsure, these are some signs that you may have issues with teeth grinding, gnashing or clenching:
- Chipping, flattening or loosening of teeth
- Exposure of the inner layers of your teeth
- Jaw pain, tightness or locking
- Unexplained headaches and earaches
- Inner cheek irritation
- Waking yourself up in the middle of the night
Getting Dental Implants with Bruxism
Another unwanted side effect of bruxism is damage to dental implants. While most people with bruxism can safely receive implants, uncontrolled bruxism can cause complications in the implant process. There are several reasons for this:
- People with bruxism have increased jaw strength and biting force
- Bruxism results in more frequent tooth-on-tooth contact, sometimes for several hours a day compared to the normal nine minutes of chewing1
- Teeth grinding is a side-to-side movement, rather than the typical up-and-down movement
These abnormalities put implants at risk for the same reason they put natural teeth at risk – the jaw is putting too much pressure on the implants over too long a time. This can lead to implant damage down the line.
There are also extra considerations when it comes to implants because they do not take to your mouth right away. Your body must undergo the months-long process of osseointegration, the fusion of the implants with your natural jawbone tissue. Repeated grinding could hinder this process. Dental implants also lack a periodontal ligament, which allows a natural tooth to withstand pressure from your jaw.
An oral surgeon may take a variety of preventative actions to encourage implant success for patients who exhibit symptoms of bruxism. They can choose a wider diameter for your implant, so any pressure from grinding, gnashing or clenching is distributed across a larger surface. For extra strength, they can use titanium alloys for the implant material. It is also highly likely you will need a bite guard, which will prevent you from doing damage overnight by distributing pressure across your teeth and sparing your implants.
Discuss Bruxism Concerns and Dental Implants With Greater Louisville Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
Even if you have bruxism, you may still be a great candidate for dental implants. Let the expert surgeons at Greater Louisville Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates help brighten your smile with precise dental implant surgery that can restore both rows of your pearly whites to their original state. Our practice serves the Louisville, Shelbyville, Brandenburg, Southern Indiana and Elizabethtown areas. Give us a call at 502-459-8012 to schedule your consultation today!