Bruxism and Facial Pain
Udo Schütte, DDS
Assistant Professor, New York University School of Dentistry
Clinical Practice, Prosthodontic Associates, PLLC, New York, NY
Udo Schütte, DDS, describes bruxism as clenching the jaw and grinding the teeth. He explains that people may not always be aware of having this disorder, especially if it occurs at night while they are sleeping. Bruxism is typically identified when the worn-down appearance of the teeth is noted during a routine dental exam. Symptoms can include hot, cold, or sweet sensitivity in the teeth, as well as headaches, ear pain, or pain in the jaw joint—called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. People with bruxism often have a history of significant stress and tension, and the severity of symptoms is usually related to the amount of stress has to cope with, how long and how hard a person clenches and grinds, and his or her ability to relax. The goals of treating bruxism include reducing the pain and preventing permanent damage to the teeth. Dr. Schütte
suggests that pain medication is sometimes necessary, and he provides examples from his clinical practice of techniques to “unlearn” clenching behaviors. He suggests the use of appropriate bite guards or splints to help protect the teeth at night during sleep. Self-care for bruxism includes applying ice or wet heat to sore jaw muscles; avoiding hard foods like nuts and candies and tough, chewy foods like steak; drinking plenty of water; getting plenty of sleep; and consciously relaxing the face and jaw muscles throughout the day.
Country: United States
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