Bruxism and teeth grinding are usually rated under diagnostic code 9905, related to TMJ. Getting a disability rating for this disorder requires establishing that you have a primary service-connected condition that causes or aggravates your bruxism.
The VA does not recognize bruxism as a direct service-connected disability. However, it may be rated as secondary to a condition like PTSD.
Bruxism, or teeth grinding, causes strain on the jaw muscles and the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), leading to pain, discomfort, and sleep disruptions. It can also cause tooth damage and wear and tear on dental work. Bruxism can lead to receding gums and can negatively impact the appearance of one’s smile.
Most people who grind their teeth are unaware that they do so, especially during sleep (sleep bruxism). Most often, patients only find out that they grind their teeth when they notice a sore jaw muscle or their spouse tells them they hear them grinding their teeth at night.
Teeth grinding is linked to stress and anxiety. Alcohol and smoking, recreational drugs, and certain medications, such as antidepressants and antipsychotics, can exacerbate it. Genetics may also play a role in whether or not someone is prone to grinding their teeth. A dentist can recommend behavior modification strategies, including a sleep schedule and relaxation techniques, to reduce the symptoms of bruxism and TMJ.
Many veterans struggle with severe bruxism and teeth grinding. This stress-related disorder may cause long-term or permanent dental damage, temporomandibular joint (TMJ) symptoms like jaw clicking or popping, and sleep problems.
It’s essential to understand how a VA rating for bruxism works if you’re seeking disability compensation. Understanding the bruxism VA rating is crucial for veterans dealing with teeth-grinding issues, as it plays a significant role in determining the compensation they may be eligible for due to service-connected dental conditions. It would help if you established that your bruxism is caused or aggravated by a primary service-connected condition like PTSD, obstructive sleep apnea, or anxiety.
If you have a high rating for your primary service-connected condition, then you might qualify for a higher disability rating for bruxism as a secondary condition. The VA uses a pyramid or stacking system to determine your total disability rating, meaning that any additional ratings you receive for bruxism will be added as proportional percentages to your primary rating. However, the exact amount of your bruxism rating depends on the severity of the disorder and how it impacts your life. For example, a veteran who suffers from severe bruxism might be eligible for a higher rating because it significantly affects their ability to open their mouth or enjoy meals.
If left untreated, bruxism and teeth grinding can cause damage to the jaw, headaches, teeth, and ears. This is why seeking treatment for the condition as soon as possible is essential.
Many veterans develop bruxism as a result of conditions caused by their time in service, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and internalized anger. Depending on the reason you developed your bruxism, it can be eligible for a disability rating as a secondary service-connected condition.
To qualify for a secondary service-connected condition, you will need to have a primary diagnosis of a mental health issue, like PTSD, and then provide the VA with evidence that supports how your bruxism is linked to this in-service event. For example, you may have PTSD nightmares that lead to your involuntary grinding of the teeth.
You must submit medical evidence, such as a lay statement from a spouse or a doctor’s report, to support your case. Your advocate can explain how to prove a link between your primary service-connected condition and your bruxism and TMJ.
The VA does not treat bruxism or TMJ disorders as their primary service-connected disabilities. Instead, they are rated as secondary conditions related to other conditions, such as PTSD or sleep apnea. A Veteran’s bruxism or TMJ disorder will be placed using the Combined Rating Table and is typically assigned a percentage of their total disability rating based on the symptoms they experience as a result of this condition.
Bruxism is an uncontrollable and instinctive behavior that can lead to severe dental damage, jaw pain, and disability. Veterans who believe that their military service caused or aggravated a bruxism disorder should make sure they understand how the VA rates this condition and what steps they can take to receive compensation for this disorder. The first step is establishing that their bruxism is a secondary condition that stems from a direct service-connected disability. For example, a Veteran who develops PTSD nightmares might grind their teeth in response to the stress of these symptoms.
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