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Bruxism refers to an oral parafunctional activity which occurs in most humans at some point in their lives.  The grinding of the teeth and the clenching of the jaw are the two main characteristics of this condition, which can occur either during the day or at night.

Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders and causes most of its damage during sleeping hours.  The clenching and grinding which accompanies bruxism is symptomatic of a malfunctioning chewing reflex, which is turned off in non-sufferers when sleeping.  For sufferers, deep sleep or even naps, cause the reflex nerve control center in the brain to turn off, and the reflex pathways to become active.

Typically, the incisors and canines (front 6 upper and lower teeth) of opposing arches grind against each other laterally.  This side to side action puts undue strain on the medial pterygoid muscles and the temporomandibular joints.  Earache, depression, headaches, eating disorders and anxiety are amongst the most common symptoms of bruxism; which often accompanies chronic stress, Alzheimer’s disease and alcohol abuse.

Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all, because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear.  Only a trained professional can tell the difference between bruxing wear and wear caused by overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks and abrasive foods.

A BiteStrip® is an economical device used to diagnose bruxism at home.  The device itself is a small electromyography which senses and monitors any activity in the jaw muscles during sleep.  The frequency and severity of the condition can then be assessed and the best treatment plan can be formulated.

Reasons for the treatment of bruxism

Here are some of the main reasons why bruxism should be promptly treated:

  • Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss; firstly because it damages the soft tissue directly, and secondly because it leads to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria can colonize and destroy the supporting bone.

  • Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.

  • Arthritis – In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (the joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).

  • Myofascial pain – The grinding associated with bruxism can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth.  This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and debilitating headaches.

Treatment options for bruxism

There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available.  Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:

  • Mouthguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep.  Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help prevent tooth damage, damage to the temporomandibular joint and help to stabilize the occlusion.

  • NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth.  The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.

  • Botox® – Botox® can be injected into the muscles to relax and weaken them.  Botox® is an excellent treatment for bruxism because it weakens the muscles enough to prevent the grinding, but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.

Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education and biofeedback mechanisms.  When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.

If you have questions or concerns about bruxism, please ask your dentist.


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5 star rating 8/30/2017
Dr. Thai has been my dentist for over 3 years now and I'm still fully satisfied with this office! The main thing I like about this office is that they really care about the patient.
So if you're looking for an office that pays attention to personalized care and a dentist that listens to your needs and concerns, this is the office for you!
They accept most insurances so if you're not sure if they are in network, make sure to give them a call and they will help you through the process!

CK in Sunnyvale on 08/30/2017

5.0 star rating 3/13/2016
I strongly disagree with Peter Z. I doubt that his review is for Dr Thai. I've been with Dr. Thai for 2 years and she never did what Peter Z has described. Dr. Thai is not a pushy person, I don't believe she would repeatedly up-sell unnecessary procedures to her patients. She is professional, knowledgable, skillful, experienced, down to earth, sincere, friendly. There are a lot of great values I found on her as an outstanding dentist.

I would highly recommend her to anybody.

Richard via Yelp

5.0 star rating 11/20/2015
1 check-in
This review is long overdue! I have been a patient of Dr. Thai for over 7 years now. I concur with the other reviews that she is sincere, friendly, and will go above and beyond to help with getting your dental needs taken care of. She would take the time to answer all of my questions and was very thorough with her cleanings, screenings, and overall dental care. The best thing about her is that she is gentle and patient. If you happen to see her during the holiday season, you may get a chance to try her homemade muffins or cookies. Her assistant told me that she loves to bake during the holidays, and she would share them with patients and colleagues. Her office even have cool dental items like bacon, pickle, and cupcake toothpaste/floss for you to try. So if you want a personalized and friendly office where the dentist knows all of her patients by name, then I highly recommend Dr. Thai. You won't be disappointed.

Chip via Yelp

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We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.