One doctor's personal journey to treat bruxism

March 30, 2020
Kristin Hohman
Volume 54, Issue 4

After suffering with pain for years, finding relief for bruxism became Dr. Joseph Pelerin’s mission.

As many as 10 percent of American adults and 15 percent of American children suffer from bruxism, according to the American Sleep Association. That equates to as many as 32 million people who clench their jaws or grind their teeth, usually without even realizing it.

One of these sufferers was Dr. Joseph Pelerin, a general dentist with his own practice in Auburn Hills, Mich. Dr. Pelerin would have shoulder, neck, and headache pain, but he was unaware of why.

“It was about in my 30s that I started to experience pain-shoulder, neck, and headache pain. There was some point where I went two-three days in a row and it happens like migraine headaches,” Dr. Pelerin says. “My teeth didn’t bother me at all. And even as a dentist, I had no idea that I was clenching or grinding.”

An MRI turned up no cause for his pain. Soon, he began experiencing pain in his left temporal-mandibular and he took a course on bruxism that opened his eyes to how problematic it can be.

“Once I figured that out, I became very passionate and became very interested in the problem of what a lot of people refer to as TMD, Temporomandibular Disease,” Dr. Pelerin says. “And then at the same time, I was treating my own patients, even myself. The perspective I bring is that I was the dentist and the patient at the same time.”

As Dr. Pelerin was uniquely situated to be both patient and doctor, he researched and developed his own device, the GrindReliefN.  

“I had a lot of patients that I would make the horseshoe for. They wake up and their muscles are still sore,” he says. “I became frustrated. Yeah, I got the $500 fee, but I wanted more-I wanted my patients to get relief. So, I started experimenting with prototyping, with a device that eventually became the GrindReliefN.”

The GrindReliefN is a sleep appliance that is made from FDA-cleared thermoplastic. Its Power Bar creates pressure on the upper and lower midline at the same time, doubling the beneficial mechanism of action as a traditional NTI device. The GrindReliefN covers the upper or lower anteriors. Pressure is concentrated at the midline, where the Power Bar acts as a stimulus to naturally reduce clenching pressure. 

“Our device has a central bar built into the tray, which is engaged and puts pressure on the upper and lower at the same time, plus our device is a little bit larger,” Dr. Pelerin says. “Unlike the NTI, when the patient’s jaw slides back, they still have contact at the bicuspids. You’ve got some bicuspid occlusion, and when you slide forward, you go back onto the bar.

“It creates like a biofeedback, a reflex that reduces the muscle activity 60 percent or more. That’s why it’s not just plastic between the teeth but it’s science, and it helps to reduce the muscles which are causing the problem,” he continues. “And that’s what GrindReliefN does. It gets that anterior bite force-upper and lower at the same time-to reduce the muscle activity, and that’s where the success comes in.”

The outer shell is very stable under high heat and the inner thermoplastic can be reformed as many times as needed, Dr. Pelerin says. This is particularly well-designed for children as they grow, he adds. 

Another advantage, Dr. Pelerin says, is that these devices can be formed in the office in about 10 minutes, eliminating impressions and lab fees. 

“It becomes a profit center, a practice builder because, you know, this is a unique device that people really like. They tell all their friends about it. And so you get patient referrals. You or an assistant can prepare this very easily in a short period of time,” he says. 

Dental practices can purchase these at a discount by buying in small quantities. 

“With the typical lab-fabricated device, if you don’t wear for a while, you can’t wear it anymore. This device is simply reheated with water and  reformed and used again,” Dr. Pelerin says. 

Helping his patients find relief has been a rewarding experience for Dr. Pelerin. 

“When you can help people to that degree, it’s just really gratifying.”

GrindReliefN

The GrindReliefN’s central Power Bar creates pressure on the upper and lower midline at the same time to prevent the back teeth from coming together. This is designed to double the beneficial mechanism of action of other devices. The thermoplastic inside this device can be reformed as many times as needed and it can be fitted onto the upper or lower front teeth. The GrindReliefN covers only the front 6-8 teeth, making it comfortable to wear.

GrindReliefN

877-401-1224  |  grindreliefn.com

download issueDownload Issue : Dental Products Report April 2020