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TMJ and Bruxism

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Patients who wake up with headaches, neck, or shoulder pain, or who are suffering from teeth sensitivity or teeth that are cracking or worn down, might have problems with TMJ. TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) and bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching) affect millions and are much more commonly diagnosed in women. These disorders can be painful, and in some cases, may seriously affect quality of life.

Some TMJ disorders prevent patients from opening their mouths fully, making dental exams and oral hygiene difficult. Such severe symptoms put oral health at risk.

Signs of TMJ Disorders

Although the signs of TMJ can vary dramatically from person to person, some of them may include:

  • Clicking or popping in the jaw joints
  • Being unable to open or close the mouth fully
  • Teeth not coming together completely
  • Pain in the jaw joints
  • Facial, neck, or shoulder pain
  • Headaches or migraines
  • Grinding and clenching the teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
  • Worn or shortened teeth

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

Jaw problems can sometimes be caused by an accident, trauma, or a sports injury. It is, however, just as common for the disorder to have no definite cause.

Because more women are diagnosed with TMJ disorders, scientists are considering a link between TMJ disorders and female hormones.

How the teeth come together (occlusion or “bite”) can play a role in TMJ and may cause dysfunction in the jaw joints.

How Are TMJ Disorders Treated?

TMJ is treated differently, depending on the type and severity of symptoms. Treatment can include:

  • Splint therapy
  • Surgery
  • Neuromuscular treatments
  • Deprogrammers
  • Muscle relaxers

Most cases of TMJ can be treated without surgery, although it might be required for severe cases.

Bruxism (Tooth Grinding and Clenching)

Bruxism refers to excessive clenching or grinding of the teeth. Although bruxism is quite common, symptoms can be severe and include tooth sensitivity, worn teeth, and headaches.

Clenching and grinding occur more commonly while patients are sleeping but can also occur during the day. Treatment for bruxism usually involves creating a night guard or splint to protect the teeth from damage.

If you experience any of the warning signs of a TMJ disorder or bruxism, call our office to schedule an evaluation. We will be able to recommend treatment to keep you comfortable and protect your teeth from damage.