Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding or teeth clenching involves excessive grinding of the teeth, usually without the person realizing they are doing it. It is estimated that bruxism affects around 10 percent of adults in the United States. Teeth grinding occurs during the night in most of the cases. But it can also occur during daytime.
Bruxism treatment is complicated since there are a lot of causes for this condition: anxiety and stress, misalignment of teeth, antidepressants, some drugs (as ecstasy), smoking, sleep disorders, neurological conditions (see Parkinson’s disease). Some may consider also genetic causes here, but it has not been demonstrated yet.
There are some symptoms experienced by grinders: muscular pain around the jaw, headaches, ear pain, disrupted sleep, broken fillings or crowns, cracked teeth. Bruxism destroys the outer layer enamel of the teeth, which will lead to teeth sensitivity.
The best solution for bruxism seems to be wearing a mouth guard during night. Other solutions may be the use of fluoride gels or orthodontic treatment (in case the cause of bruxism is the teeth misalignment).
Some patients have experienced improvement after having botulinum toxin injected to the chewing muscles. Botox reduces muscular strength, which decreases damage caused by clenching teeth. It is a new technique and this is why new studies are requested in order to demonstrate that Botox really helps in bruxism.
Botox is a substance injected into the skin which blocks the signals that tell muscles to contract. It can prevent wrinkles from developing or worsening. So botulinum toxinis usedboth medically to treat certain muscular conditions and cosmetically to remove wrinkle by temporarily paralyzing muscles.
Injecting Botox into the maseter muscle means you are unable to bite down with the same force. Sometimes this substance is also injected in the temporalis, a muscle that runs from the forehead to behind the ear, which is also involved in chewing. A 2012 review in International Dental Journal found that Botox may be as effective as a nightguard. Patients who were injected Botox experienced less headaches, less ear pain. A side effect is that patients lose bone density in the jaw. And the weakened bone may never regain its strength. There were studies done to see if Botox affects the bone density in the jaw and it was concluded that the answer is certainly yes. And the loss of bone in the jaw will result in the loss of teeth. Bones are in a constant breakdown and renewal, but not fully renewal. New bone is formed in response to pulling by muscles and by impacts such as chewing and biting. But when your jaw muscles are weakened by Botox they can’t push and pull the bone powerfully.
Researchers from Houston Methodist Hospital in Texas tasted Botox on 22 people diagnosed with bruxism and noticed improvements in all the symptoms experienced by grinders. But despite of these positive things, we shouldn’t forget about bone loss.
To conclude this, Botox injections are an experimental treatment for grinders. Your dentist may recommend you Botox as a treatment for your bruxism. You may experience some positive results (no more headaches, ear pain, enamel loss), but do not forget to take into account the bone loss. And wearing a night guard is not such a bad solution anyway. For questions or dental issues, do not hesitate to contact Dr. Arhiri.