Grinding and clenching of teeth also known as bruxism are at an epidemic level today. Many estimate the incidence to be at least 1/3 of the population. As a practicing dentist who sees these problems daily, I believe the levels are at least 1/3 and probably higher.
Problems with Clenching and Grinding
The problems relating to bruxism are many-faceted. They include tooth damage, wearing, flattening of teeth in the front and back, notching at the gumline, generalized tooth sensitivity and many more. However, problems with clenching and grinding are not limited to the teeth. As the jaw muscles contract during bruxism many more problems with shoulder, neck and headache pain can result. Of course, soreness and pain in the jaw muscles are not usual but it doesn’t always happen in every case. Also, contraction of the jaw muscles can lead to other problems such as ear pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and even headaches.
Can Botox Help Prevent Migraine Headaches?
Many of you may have seen the commercials for Botox to treat migraine headache pain. While Botox may be injected into many muscle groups to help with migraines. The main muscles injected are the jaw muscles, the masseter, and the Pterygoid muscles. When these muscles over-contract during bruxism, it can trigger a reflex or balancing contraction in the shoulder, neck and even head muscles. This can result in shoulder pain, neck pain and even migraine headaches. This is how and why Botox can be effective to prevent migraine headaches.
When problems occur related to bruxism and the related head and neck pain that can result, many patients and even some dentists refer to it as “TMJ.“ I find this to be particularly annoying as everyone has two TMJs -temporomandibular joints. It seems to be a catchphrase for people who are not informed.
As I mentioned before, the incidence of clenching and grinding (bruxism) is estimated to be at least 1/3 of the population. The American Dental Association says 95% of people suffer from bruxism at some time in their life. However, estimates of the population with TMD (temporal-mandibular disease) are 12% of the population suffers from this malady.
With only 12% of the population estimated to suffer from the pathology of the joint and 1/3 or more of the population experiencing problems with bruxism, the math is clear – you don’t need problems with TMJ disease to have problems with clenching and grinding. From my experience, you can have a perfectly normal TMJ and with enough stress (which is the key factor) you will have problems clenching and grinding.
What Can You Do About It?
So what can you do about this? If you suffer from it, not everyone needs or wants Botox injections. Over the last 40 years, I have treated many patients for this problem. I am also a patient, not just the doctor. I have suffered from this problem for many years, which gives me personal insight that some doctors do not have. I have made and worn many different devices or “splints“ to treat this malady. The standard device made by most dentists is a horseshoe device to fit upper or lower teeth; it does very little to reduce muscle activity. Many of my patients have said they simply can’t wear this large device, and when they do their muscles are still tight and sore. It’s plastic between the teeth, nothing more.
My passion in this venue, as both the doctor and patient, has caused me to study the many treatment options available, especially when treating my patients for this problem, I wanted more than payment, I wanted to succeed. As I investigated the options, I found the NTI was the only device with FDA approval for the treatment of migraine headaches. Studies have shown this small device, which concentrates force at the midline, can reduce muscle activity 60% or more. However, It must be made by a dentist, can cost hundreds of dollars, and has side effects for some that are less than ideal.
GrindReliefN Can Help
Recognizing this as a benchmark, I developed a device called GrindReliefN. It is simply the best mouth guard for clenching and grinding your teeth. It is slightly larger than the NTI going into the bicuspid area to accommodate bites the NTI cannot treat. Unlike the NTI, it puts pressure on the upper and lower midline at the same time, doubling the mechanism of action to reduce muscle activity. It can be worn on the upper or lower 6 to 8 teeth and can be reshaped as many times as desirable for an ideal fit. I’ve had great success using this device for my office patients. However, it is also sold online at an over-the-counter price and with great reviews.
When I began to experience problems with shoulder, neck and headache pain over 30 years ago, I had no idea I was clenching or grinding my teeth – my teeth didn’t bother me. So even as a dentist, not being aware of it because I was sleeping, it made me realize many who suffer may not realize they have this problem.