The medical term for teeth grinding and clenching the jaw is bruxism. A little known term for a surprisingly common problem, in fact the NHS estimates that 6 million people in the UK suffer from it.
Often (but not exclusively) done in our sleep, teeth grinding and jaw clenching can cause a multitude of problems, including headaches, jaw pain, ear ache, gum problems and literally the grinding away of teeth.
Patients often have underlying causes, such as stress and anxiety, which come to the surface while they sleep. Dentists often offer a mouth guard (specially made to a mold of the patients mouth), but these can be difficult to get used to and while they protect the teeth, they don’t always stop the symptoms in the jaw.
I’ve successfully treated patients with bruxism by using botulinum toxin. This treatment works by relaxing the facial and jaw muscles which are involved in the grinding and clenching process. It’s a number of injections which will need to be repeated around every six months, so it’s a relatively easy way to solve a problem that can be hard to live with.
A recent patient is Dan, a 46 year-old who works in television. Dan has a stressful job that involves a lot of traveling and he works long hours. He’d been waking up with painful headaches for a number of months and his dentist recommended a bite guard. He had one made (which cost several hundred pounds) but found it very uncomfortable to sleep with.
Dan says: “I was a little skeptical but willing to give the treatment a go. Dr Sister injected my jawline with Botox which wasn’t too painful. It took a number of weeks for me to feel any positive effect, but then I realised I was no longer waking up with a headache, which was amazing!
I was aware of the effects wearing off after around 6 months, as the annoying headaches returned, but I was happy to have a top up. Compared to wearing the bite guard, this treatment has been fantastic. I would definitely recommend it to anyone who is suffering from teeth grinding or jaw clenching.”
If you want to know more about how treatment could help you stop grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw, or if you have questions about any of my other treatments, please get in touch. You can comment on this blog post, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, tweet me @DrDanielSister, or find me on Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you.