VA Disability Rating for Bruxism

Many veterans develop bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, due to various conditions caused by time in service, including anxiety, sleep disturbances, and post-traumatic stress disorder. If you or a loved one are a veteran and have bruxism caused by time in service, Veterans Guide can help you collect the maximum VA compensation for bruxism. Our team can also help you file your claim correctly and determine your bruxism VA rating and TMJ VA rating.

Key Takeaways
  • Veterans with bruxism can receive a VA disability rating as a secondary condition related to direct service-connected issues like PTSD.
  • Bruxism itself is not directly service-connected but can be rated under diagnostic codes for related conditions such as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
  • The VA ratings for TMD, which may cover bruxism symptoms, vary from 10% to 40%, based on the severity of symptoms and limitations, such as extent of jaw movement and dietary restrictions.

Many veterans develop bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, due to conditions caused by time in service, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and internalized anger. Although bruxism does not usually cause serious consequences, severe bruxism may lead to tension-type headaches, tooth damage, discomfort or tenderness in the ears, jaw, face, or neck, and damage to the temporomandibular joints, or TMJ.

If you are a veteran with bruxism, you may be eligible to receive VA disability benefits for bruxism as a secondary service-connected condition. Veterans Guide’s advocates can help you obtain maximum disability benefits by providing expert guidance, explaining bruxism VA ratings and TMJ VA ratings, and assisting with the application and appeals processes.

Veterans and Bruxism

Bruxism is when you gnash, grind, or clench your teeth during sleep or awake. Signs and symptoms of bruxism include the following:

  • Teeth clenching or grinding, which may be loud enough to awaken your partner
  • Loose, chipped, fractured, or flattened teeth
  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Sleep disruption
  • Chewing on the inside of your cheek
  • Tight or fatigued jaw muscles
  • A locked jaw that does not completely close or open
  • Increased tooth sensitivity and pain
  • Dull headache

Several risk factors increase the likelihood of developing bruxism:

  • Mental health conditions caused by time in service: Veterans may develop awake or sleep bruxism due to various service-related conditions, including post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety.
  • Other disorders: Bruxism can be associated with other medical and mental health disorders, such as gastroesophageal reflux disorder, night terrors, Parkinson’s disease, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
  • Personality type: Hyperactive, aggressive, and competitive people are more likely to develop bruxism.
  • Medications and other substances: Bruxism can be a side effect of smoking tobacco, using recreational drugs, drinking alcohol or caffeinated beverages, and taking psychiatric medications such as antidepressants.

Bruxism does not usually cause serious harm. However, it can have the following effects over time:

  • Damage to your jaw, teeth, crowns, or restorations
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Migraines
  • Severe jaw or facial pain
  • Disorders affecting the temporomandibular joints that are in front of your ears

Bruxism Only Eligible as a Secondary Disability

The VA does not recognize bruxism as a direct service-related condition. Veterans can only receive disability benefits for bruxism as a secondary condition stemming from a direct service-connected condition. The VA made this determination because Bruxism only occurs as a symptom of another pre-existing condition.

Veterans may be eligible to receive monthly disability compensation and a VA disability rating for bruxism if they can prove another direct service-connected condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, aggravated or caused it. 

Veterans can establish bruxism as a second disability by providing the VA with the following:

  • Medical records that show their bruxism diagnosis and treatment
  • Doctor reports and medical evidence showing the bruxism was aggravated or caused by an established direct service-connected condition

For example, veterans diagnosed with bruxism can establish it as a secondary condition if they have evidence showing it is a response to direct service-connected post-traumatic stress disorder.

How Does the VA Rate Bruxism?

The VA Schedule of Ratings for Dental and Oral Conditions has no diagnostic code for bruxism. This is because bruxism causes a wide range of symptoms ranging from mild to severe. However, veterans with bruxism may be eligible to pursue secondary disability ratings under VA diagnostic codes 9905 or 9913.

Diagnostic Code 9905 for Temporomandibular Disorder

If you have severe bruxism, you may develop a temporomandibular disorder, which causes dysfunction and pain in the temporomandibular joints controlling jaw movement. Veterans with temporomandibular disorders may be eligible to pursue a disability rating under diagnostic code 9905.

The VA ratings for TMJ are as follows:

  • 10 percent  rating for 0 to 4 millimeters of lateral excursion of motion or 30 to 34 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening without diet restrictions to mechanically altered foods
  • 20 percent  rating for 30 to 34 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening with diet restrictions to semi-solid and soft foods or 21 to 29 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening without diet restrictions to mechanically altered foods
  • 30 percent  rating for 30 to 34 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening with diet restrictions to pureed and full liquid foods, 21 to 29 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening with diet restrictions to semi-solid and soft foods, or 11 to 20 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening without diet restrictions to mechanically altered foods
  • 40 percent  rating for 21 to 29 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening with diet restrictions to pureed and full liquid foods, 11 to 20 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening with diet restrictions to all mechanically altered foods, or 0 to 10 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening without diet restrictions to mechanically altered foods
  • 50 percent  rating for 0 to 10 millimeters of maximum unassisted vertical opening with diet restrictions to all mechanically altered foods

Diagnostic Code 9913 for Partial or Total Loss of Teeth

Severe bruxism can erode teeth, causing partial or total tooth loss. Veterans who have experienced total or partial tooth loss due to bruxism may be eligible to receive disability ratings under diagnostic code 9913.

Diagnostic code 9913 rates tooth loss as follows:

  • 10 percent  rating if all lower and upper teeth on one side of the mouth are missing, all upper front teeth are missing, or all lower front teeth are missing
  • 20 percent  rating if all lower and upper posterior or front teeth are missing
  • 30 percent  rating if all lower or upper teeth are missing
  • 40 percent  rating if all teeth are missing

Total Disability Individual Unemployability and Bruxism

Total Disability Individual Unemployability is a rating for veterans who cannot work due to their service-connected disability. Veterans who qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability may receive health care or compensation at the same level as veterans with 100 percent  disability ratings.

If you are a veteran with bruxism, you must prove the following to qualify for Total Disability Individual Unemployability benefits:

  • You have a service-connected disability rated at 60 percent  or more. Alternatively, you have multiple service-connected disabilities with a combined rating of at least 70 percent and with one rated at least at 40 percent.
  • You cannot obtain or hold a steady job that financially sustains you due to your service-connected disability.

How to Obtain VA Disability Compensation for Bruxism?

If you are a veteran with temporomandibular disorders or tooth loss caused by bruxism, you can seek VA disability compensation by filing a claim. Provide the VA with as much evidence as possible, such as medical reports and nexus letters from doctors showing your bruxism was caused or aggravated by a direct service-connected condition. 

If the VA needs more information to decide your case, it may ask you to submit more evidence or undergo a VA claim exam. Also known as a compensation and pension exam, a claim exam helps the VA determine whether you have a service-connected disability. The VA can also use the claim exam to assess your TMJ VA rating or bruxism VA rating.

Need help with seeking VA benefits? Contact Veterans Guide today to learn more about obtaining VA disability compensation for bruxism. Our veteran advocates can help you obtain maximum compensation, explain disability eligibility criteria, and assist with the application and appeals processes.

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