Teeth grinding (bruxism) affects millions of Americans, and it can cause a lot of issues with your oral health. Not only does bruxism damage your teeth, but it can also lead to jaw problems like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD).
How are these two conditions linked? In this blog, the team at Jackson Family Dentistry will explore the connection between bruxism and TMJ/TMD, explain your options for treatment, and much more. Read on, and learn with us.
Teeth grinding, usually called bruxism by dentists, is the uncontrolled clenching and gnashing of the teeth. Normally, the teeth are only supposed to clench together when you bite down. So if you grind and clench excessively, this can cause a lot of strain on your jaw muscles, and it can also wear down and damage your teeth.
Teeth grinding can happen during the day or night, but it’s more common at night. This is problematic because, while you can change your habits and avoid grinding during the day, nighttime grinding is done unconsciously.
Because of this, a custom-fitted plastic nightguard is usually recommended to treat nighttime grinding. This will cushion and protect your teeth from the effects of bruxism.
Dentists are still not sure exactly what causes people to grind their teeth. However, there are a few different things that seem to raise the risk of bruxism, including:
TMJ/TMD is short for “temporomandibular joint disorder.” This is a disorder of the small, delicate joints located below your ears, which are responsible for connecting your jaw to your skull.
The most common symptoms of TMJ/TMD include jaw popping and clicking noises, trouble opening and closing the mouth smoothly and fully, headaches, jaw pain, and pain or tenderness when chewing.
TMJ/TMD can be caused by a lot of different things including trauma to this joint and autoimmune disorders. But the most common cause is jaw overuse, and this is how bruxism contributes to TMJ/TMD.
Clenching and grinding your teeth puts excessive, unnatural strain on the jaw muscles and joints. This, in turn, can cause or contribute to the development of TMJ/TMD.
The most common dental treatment option for TMJ/TMD is a custom-made night guard. This night guard or “oral appliance” protects the teeth from clenching and grinding, and moves the jaw into a healthier position to help it heal.
You may also need to make some lifestyle changes like taking steps to reduce stress, eating soft foods for a while, and doing physical therapy to improve the health of your jaw muscles and joints.
At Jackson Family Dentistry, Dr. Ben Heffter and Dr. Pako Major are experts at treating bruxism and TMJ. If you believe that you grind your teeth or you think you may have TMJ in Jackson, Hartford, or Germantown, our team is here to help. Contact us online or give us a call at (262) 677-3003 to schedule an appointment right away, and get relief from your jaw pain and discomfort.