Let’s Talk About Bruxism

I cringe at the thought of bruxism, or teeth grinding, don’t you? There is a significant need for treatment of bruxism, and even sleep bruxism–don’t worry, we will cover it shortly.

What is Bruxism or Sleep Bruxism?

Bruxism is a term used to describe gnashing and grinding of the teeth that occurs without a functional purpose. Whether a patient’s teeth grinding is due to a nervous habit, stress or unknowingly, bruxism can cause a lot of damage to their teeth, as well as health. Bruxism affects both children and adults, but is most common among 25-44 year olds.

There are two prominent reasons why people grind their teeth at night:

  1. Stress – this is particularly evident for women
  2. Genetics – grinding teeth can be something inherited by family

In 2005, sleep bruxism was categorized as a sleep related movement disorder and defined as an oral parafunctional activity characterized by tooth grinding or jaw clenching during sleep, which is usually associated with sleep arousals. So, why do we care about microtrauma? Because of breakage of dental restoration, tooth damage, induction of temporal headaches and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD).

Long Term Damage

In comparison to five years ago, dental and orthodontic practices have seen an increase in patients coming into their office with teeth grinding complaints. Whether a person is waking up with a sore jaw, or have been told by their sleep partner that they have been grinding their teeth at night, studies found that nearly 70% of bruxism cases are caused by anxiety. With cases on the rise, whether it is bruxism or sleep bruxism, it is more important than ever to begin treatment and screening immediately.

Take charge of your patients’ health by screening for bruxism. To learn more, contact my office or sign up for an upcoming lecture.

Infographic: Help Your TMD Patients Eat Better

What does your diet look like? When a patient suffers from temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) their diet can play a huge role in their pain. While it is important to eat healthy, TMD sufferers need to be aware of the food they are eating because it can further complicate their condition. The last thing you need is your patients experiencing more pain because they are making poor food choices.  

To help your patients gain a better understanding of what to eat and what not to eat I have created an infographic showcases good food choices for TMD sufferers. In the infographic below, we cover a variety of areas and provide some suggestions to follow:

TMD- Watch What You Eat

 

Feel free to download the above infographic for use in your office. Remember, handouts and visuals for patients are often extremely helpful in getting the right information across to them. For more information on TMD and how you can help your patients, please visit my lectures page or send me an email! I’m more than happy to talk to you further about TMD and your patients.

There’s a Connection Between Airway, Bruxism and Craniofacial Pain

Think of Airway, Bruxism and Craniofacial Pain. What do these words have in common? From just the words, it looks like they are three completely different terms. And, other than the first letter of each word being ABC, these areas have a lot more in common than you may realize. With advancements in research, we continue to learn more about the connection between sleep apnea (the airway), bruxism and craniofacial pain (TMD). For these reasons, dentists should educate themselves on each area for increased patient care.

Why are the ABCs so Important?

Think about it. What do you know what dental sleep medicine, etiologies of bruxism or craniofacial pain conditions, such as TMD? Odds are you might know little to nothing about each and that’s ok. A majority of dentists know little to nothing about these areas of dental specialty, so you’re not alone. However, because of this, dentists are unable to recognize the risk of sleep apnea, let alone manage patients with oral appliances. Let’s do something about this.

This is the same for craniofacial pain and bruxism. While bruxism may be noticed more often than sleep apnea or craniofacial pain, it is often overlooked. By taking the steps toward a better understanding of the unique connections between the airway, bruxism, craniofacial pain and other conditions, dentists can create endless opportunities for services in diagnosis and treatment options within their practice. Let’s examine the ABCs of advanced dental services…

Airway (Sleep Apnea)

The ‘A’ in the ABCs stands for “Airway”, which is commonly referred to in sleep disordered breathing disorders, such as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Dental practices are in a unique position to identify patients at risk for conditions involving the airway. Understanding the airway and how it can affect a patient’s sleeping patterns due to sleep apnea and other sleep disordered breathing conditions is vital in maintaining your patients’ health and improving service offerings. It can also help in treating other conditions when there is a clear link available (trust me, there are connections).

Bruxism

Let’s refresh your memory. Bruxism is the gnashing and grinding of teeth that occurs without a functional purpose. When a patient is suffering from bruxism, it can cause a lot of problems (as you know). Whether it is due to a nervous habit, stress or unknowingly grinding teeth at night, bruxism can cause damage to not only a patient’s teeth, but their overall health as well. Due to the breakage of dental restorations from bruxism, tooth damage, induction of temporal headaches and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) can occur. From one condition (bruxism), so many other complications can occur, which means we need to take charge and continue our education immediately.

Craniofacial Pain (TMD)

We come full circle with craniofacial pain, as it covers a wide spectrum of symptoms exhibited in many areas of the head and neck. In particular, a majority of craniofacial pain complications can be associated with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Can you see the pattern? Because of this, an essential part of routine dental examinations for all patients should include an evaluation for TMD, including a patient’s history, clinical examination, and imaging when appropriate.

Connect the Conditions

There appears to be an apparent relationship in some individuals between the airway, bruxism and craniofacial pain. While it might not be found in every patient, there are still some individuals requiring further attention because there is an apparent connection. As a dentist, it is important to understand that clenching or grinding of one’s teeth can be a way for the brain to protect itself from suffocation during sleep–it connects the ABCs.

Each condition might be a sign of deeper complications, but what can you do about it? Educate yourself by completing continuing education courses and attending lectures or seminars. While it might not occur in every case, it is vital that we as dentists understand it for those certain individuals suffering from all three conditions. For more information, please contact my office or visit my lectures page to find the next available educational course for your needs.

Untreated Sleep Apnea is Costing Us Billions

We know that untreated sleep apnea can lead to further complications in a person’s overall health–that’s an easy one. But did you also know that untreated sleep apnea is costing us billions? It is and that is just another reason why you, as a dentist, should continue your education in the area of sleep apnea.

Sleep Apnea is Costly

According to a report commissioned by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, undiagnosed obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) is costing the United States about $150 billion annually. Wow, that’s a lot of money. But what does that cost factor in? The estimated cost includes:

  • $26.2 billion in car accidents
  • $6.5 billion in workplace accidents
  • $30 billion in increased healthcare utilization and medication costs
    • This is due to comorbidities such as Hypertension, Diabetes and Stroke.

Sleep apnea is affecting 29.4 million (roughly 12%) of the adult population. While 12% doesn’t seem like that much, it is still too much. For a condition that is easily treatable, there shouldn’t be so many people that go untreated or undiagnosed. Through diagnosis and treatment of sleep apnea, it is estimated that it could result in $100 billion in savings–now that’s a lot.

Health Conditions and Untreated Sleep Apnea

Now that you know the financial ramifications of untreated sleep apnea, let’s take a refresher on the health conditions resulting from it:

  • Heart Disease – Sleep apnea can lead to heart attacks, which cause people to die in the middle of the night due to low oxygen or the stress of waking up frequently during sleep.
  • High Blood Pressure – OSA can contribute to high blood pressure due to the frequency of waking up at nighttime. This causes hormonal systems to go into overdrive.
  • Type 2 Diabetes – People suffering from type 2 diabetes will often suffer from sleep apnea, which can also lead to obesity, which is the number one cause of sleep apnea.
  • Acid Reflux – There’s no proof that sleep apnea causes acid reflux or persistent heartburn, but it has been shown that sleep apnea sufferers complain of acid reflux.
  • Obesity – A leading cause and side effect of sleep apnea, obesity raises the risk of sleep apnea due to weight gain. Losing weight can often help cure sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea can be easily treated, so why haven’t you taken the steps to offering treatment options in your office? Let’s get started. Continuing education will help you offer advanced services for a treatment that could save us billions each year.