Bruxism: Is Botox the Answer to your Teeth Grinding?
When suffering from high levels of stress, anxiety, or exhaustion, your physical and mental health can suffer in many ways. One of which, which is lesser recognised, is a condition known as bruxism – a habit that finds sufferers grinding or clenching their teeth a lot more often than usual, as well as at night, which is more commonly known as sleep bruxism.
Stress can affect your body even while you’re sleeping, causing you to grind your teeth as a result. The symptoms of bruxism include a decrease of enamel on the tooth, increased sensitivity, jaw soreness and tight jaw muscles, loose or chipped teeth and headaches.
Nobody knows the definitive reasons as to why people grind their teeth. Stress is a significant factor, but alcohol consumption, smoking, and too much caffeine can also trigger the problem. The best thing you can do for bruxism is to seek medical attention and have your symptoms evaluated before it causes far-reaching damage.
What does Botox do?
Botox is a neurotoxin that blocks signals from the nerves to the muscles so they can no longer contract. It works very well for treating bruxism as it weakens the muscles so that you’re unable to clench the jaw or grind with as much force as you would be able to without the Botox.
It takes up to two weeks to kick in, and the results can last three to four months before you’ll need to have a top-up. Although several other dental interventions can help treat bruxism, Botox is the fastest and most reliable way to alleviate pain quickly. In fact, consistent treatment can even eventually retrain muscles to stop grinding altogether.
Beyond this, Botox injections in this area can also lead to some aesthetic improvements, including a slimmer facial appearance as the muscles in the jaw soften.
Are there any other solutions?
Some people find relaxation techniques helpful to manage stress. Avoiding screen time immediately before bed, meditating or practising breathwork as often as you can throughout the day (in short bursts of 2-3 minutes at a time) and exercising are all examples of ways that you can start to manage your stress better. They may seem simple, but once you begin to deal with stress in the moment, rather than letting it mount up, you will start to see changes.
You may also wish to consider investing in a mouth guard to help protect your teeth. You can purchase this either over the counter or by visiting your dentist for a custom-made set.
Lifestyle changes that you can make include eliminating caffeine consumption after midday and avoiding alcohol, particularly before bedtime, both of which can make you more likely to grind your teeth.
What happens if you don’t seek treatment?
Chronic teeth grinding can cause many problems for the teeth and muscles, resulting in fracturing, loosening or loss of teeth. The chronic grinding may wear down teeth, and when this happens, bridges, crowns, root canals or dentures may be needed.
Severe teeth grinding can cause problems with the TMJ (the joint the connects your lower jaw to your skull) and even change the appearance of the face.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.