It's usually best to see your dentist first, though you may also see a family doctor or general practitioner if your dentist feels it's necessary. In some cases when you call to set up an appointment, you may be referred immediately to a sleep specialist.
Because appointments can be brief, and because there's often a lot of ground to cover, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Be aware of any pre-appointment restrictions. At the time you make the appointment, be sure to ask if there's anything you need to do in advance. For instance, if you have been seen for bruxism-related problems in the past, records of what was identified and what treatment you received may be helpful to have with you.
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, as well as any vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor or dentist.
For bruxism, some basic questions to ask your doctor or dentist include:
- What is likely causing my symptoms or condition?
- Are there other possible causes for my symptoms or condition?
- What kinds of tests do I need?
- Is my condition likely temporary or chronic?
- What's the best treatment?
- What are the alternatives to the primary approach you're suggesting?
- I have other health conditions. How can I best manage them together?
- Are there any restrictions I need to follow?
- Should I see a specialist? What will that cost, and will my insurance cover it?
- Is there a generic alternative to the medicine you're prescribing me?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend?
What to expect from your doctor or dentist
Your doctor or dentist is likely to ask you a number of questions, such as:
- When did you first begin experiencing symptoms?
- Have your symptoms been continuous, or occasional?
- How severe are your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, seems to worsen your symptoms?
What you can do in the meantime
Take steps to reduce stress in your life and avoid the triggers that cause anxiety for you. Even if the cause of your bruxism is unknown, reducing stress is good for your general health.
May. 19, 2011
- Nowak AJ, et al. Oral habits and orofacial development. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed Jan. 13, 2011.
- What is bruxism? Academy of General Dentistry. http://www.knowyourteeth.com/infobites/abc/article/?abc=w&iid=292&aid=1137. Accessed Jan. 27, 2011.
- ADA Division of Communications. For the dental patient ... do you grind your teeth? Journal of the American Dental Association. 2005;136:559.
- Kato T. Sleep bruxism: A sleep-related movement disorder. Sleep Medicine Clinic. 2010;5:9.
- Lobbezoo F. Principles for the management of bruxism. Journal of Oral Rehabilitation. 2008;35:509.