Teeth Clenching and Grinding
A Destructive Habit
Clenching or grinding teeth, either during the day or night, is a condition known as bruxism. The habit may be caused by stress, injury, improper occlusion, or TMJ dysfunction. Over time, clenching and grinding teeth will lead to tooth wear and breakage. In addition to the pain you may endure, your upper and lower teeth might begin to change shape, so the relationship of how they fit together. Over time this can result in many problems, ranging from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) to tooth damage and cosmetic problems.
What is TMD?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. Temporal refers to the temple area of skull; mandibular refers to the mandible or lower jaw; joint refers to where two bones meet and allow movement. The TMJs, then, are the joints just below your ears that connect your jaw to your skull. Many factors contribute to misalignment, irritation, and inflammation of these joints – a condition called TMD.
TMD can trigger:
- Headaches or migraines
- Earaches or ringing ears
- Soreness when opening and closing the mouth
- Limited range of motion in the jaw
- Clicking or popping jaw joints
- Pain in the face, neck, and/or jaw muscles
Treating Bruxism & TMD
When malocclusion is the cause of bruxism or TMD, orthodontics or building up back teeth with crowns may be the most effective treatment. In many situations, a simple oral appliance, also called a splint or night guard, may be worn to eliminate clenching and grinding. A variation of the device can also position the mandible in such a way to relieve TMJ pain and TMD symptoms. Since an oral appliance is non-invasive, it is a good place to begin treatment.
TMD, Bruxism, or Both?
Do you have bruxism, TMD, or both? At your consultation, our doctors will evaluate your TMJs and teeth, then share their expert opinion regarding your situation. They will also recommend treatment options and answer all of your questions.