Bruxism diagnosis can be done through the regular visits to the dentist, the teeth are examined for evidence of bruxism; often indicated by the tips of the teeth appearing flat.
If bruxism symptoms are present, the condition will be observed for changes over the next several visits before a bruxism treatment program is established. You may also be asked to return for additional exams.
An examination for bruxism can rule out other disorders that may cause similar jaw pain or ear pain, including ear disorders such as ear infections, problems with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) itself, and dental disorders. The person may have a history of significant stress and tension.
If your dentist suspects that you have bruxism, he or she will try to determine its cause by asking questions about your stress level, your daily medications, your general dental health and whether you routinely drink alcohol or caffeinated beverages, especially during the evening. Dentist may also ask questions to your bed partner about your sleep habits, especially about any unusual grinding sounds heard during the night.
To evaluate the extent of bruxism, your dentist will examine your mouth and jaw, checking for tenderness in your jaw muscles and any obvious dental abnormalities, such as broken or missing teeth or poor tooth alignment. He or she may make a series of X-rays of your mouth and jaw.
A dental examination may detect other disorders that can cause similar jaw or ear pain, such as temporomandibular joint disorders or other dental disorders.
If your dentist suspects that you have an ear infection (otitis media), he or she will probably refer you to a primary care provider for further examination and treatment. If your dentist suspects a significant psychological component to your teeth grinding, you may be referred to a therapist.
- The enamel of the tooth is worn away by bruxism and the underlying dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. This causes the tooth to become sensitive to pressure, cold and other stimuli.
- Bruxism makes the teeth significantly shortened and creates cosmetic damage.
- Bruxism can cause damage to the temperomandibular joint. This is the "hinge" which connects the lower jaw to the upper jaw allowing us to chew and talk.
- The muscles used to chew food are the same ones responsible for bruxism. Consequently, these muscles often feel sore or tender in the morning. This may cause pain when the sides of the mouth are touched or make the jaw feel tights. Often this muscle pain is related to a headache, ear-ache, or neck pain.