Laser Treatments and Other Therapies Can Provide Relief for Dental Patients with Bruxism
More people than ever are dealing with bruxism, a painful condition that causes people to grind, gnash or clench their teeth.
But dentists want their patients to know that there are plenty of options available to help lessen the effects of teeth grinding, which can result in damaged teeth, headaches, jaw disorders (like TMJ) and other issues if the condition isn’t resolved.
Bruxism can affect as many as 10 percent of adults and 15 percent of children. Because teeth grinding can occur during sleep, many dentists will recommend a bite splint or mouth guard to protect teeth.
Other treatments, however, are more drastic, especially if the patient has gum disease or periodontitis as the result of his or her bruxism. Because bruxism causes tooth enamel to wear down to the dentin — the sensitive part of the tooth — the treatment needs to relieve pain as well as improve the appearance of teeth.
One is LANAP (Laser Assisted New Attachment Procedure), which serves as a less painful and faster healing alternative to traditional gum surgery.
This type of laser technology gently removes bacteria and diseased tissue from the gums in order to reshape them. Currently, only five to seven percent of dentists in Canada use laser technology for this type of surgery.
Dr. Cynthia Deragon, a periodontist in Fort Myers who performs this type of surgery, explains that the laser tip is small — about the width of three human hairs. The laser is able to remove darker, diseased and inflamed tissue and leave the healthier parts.
“As with periodontal surgery, the removal of disease-causing bacteria with LANAP allows the body to heal naturally so the gum pockets improve and the teeth become more stable,” Deragon said.
The other benefits of dental laser procedures include less bleeding and fewer complications. The procedures can also be used to reshape teeth through recontouring, which is especially useful for patients who have dealt with bruxism; laser whitening and canker sore removals are also popular treatments.
Some patients with bruxism have also found relief by using massage therapy and through self-care methods such as stretching their jaws.