Can Braces treat teeth grinding?

Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a harmful habit that affects most of us at some point in our lives. It is characterized by rubbing of the teeth and clenching or tightening of the muscles of the jaws. It occurs mostly at night, during sleep, but can also be present during the day.

The causes of grinding are mostly unknown. However, stress seems to play a major role. Other common factors include the shape of the jaws, the strength of the chewing muscles, the shape of the teeth themselves and their alignment, certain medical disorders, drugs, and possibly some genetic inheritance.

We all grind our teeth in some form or another. In most cases it is mild, temporary, and does not require treatment. However, if bruxism persists and becomes too severe, it can lead to headaches, worn out, loose, or broken teeth, facial pain, and damage to the jaw joints also known as TMD (Temporo-Mandibular Disorder). There is no ideal treatment for bruxism because the causes are so poorly understood. However, night-guards or splints are usually the first choice. They basically work by covering the top surfaces of the teeth to prevent wear. They also work by relieving the pressure on the jaw joints. They work well in most instances but in extreme cases, medications and even surgery is needed to treat the condition.

Some people, including dentists, believe that braces can treat grinding habits and eliminate jaw pain. It is thought that by having an ideal alignment of the teeth, bruxism can be corrected. Although it is true that by having a proper, ideal bite there is less tendency for jaw problems to occur, people with a perfect smile still exhibit grinding habits. Braces can sometimes correct a grinding habit but in most instances it does not make any significant improvements and in very rare cases, it can actually can make it worst.

In conclusion, bruxism is a common condition that all of us will experience at some point in our lives; it does not require treatment unless it is severe, painful, or damaging to oral structures; braces have not been shown to be a definitive cure to correct the problem and a multi-disciplinary approach is recommended.

Dr. Reza Salmassian is a Board Certified Orthodontist. For any questions regarding this article or to schedule your complimentary orthodontic evaluation, please contact our office at 661-222-7444.