Bruxism is a condition that results from teeth grinding and clenching. It usually starts subconsciously during periods of sleep to patients suffering from anxiety, but it can also be the result of a dental malocclusion where the upper teeth are not properly aligned with bottom teeth. Your dentist can immediately spot patients suffering from bruxism.
Very often your dentist will attempt to help the patient by adjusting the bite; another solution is to fabricate a night guard for the patient to wear at night that will help to prevent teeth grinding.
TMJ disorder is often linked to bruxism, but there is a difference. TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. And TMJ disorder is a widely used term that pretty much describes the pain and dysfunction of the muscles that allow the jaw to move for speaking, chewing, yawning … most any time you move your mouth, this jaw joint is impacted.
Unlike bruxism, which is an act attributed to teeth grinding and jaw clenching, TMJ disorder is usually the result of genetics, a facial injury, or an underlying condition like arthritis. Symptoms of bruxism and TMJ can be similar, but unlike bruxism, TJM is much more difficult to diagnose.
Symptoms can include discomfort, earache, chewing difficulties, a clicking sound when you chew or open your mouth wide, or the jaw can actually become locked in place.
Treatment for TMJ disorder usually starts with an over the counter pain medication. Your dentist might recommend moist heat. Cold packs can reduce inflammation. Your diet could be contributing to your discomfort. You might try softer foods and avoid crunchy or chewy foods to give your jaw as much rest as possible. If symptoms continue, there are more extensive treatments available.
A night guard may be recommended when it is suspected the patient is dealing with TMJ disorder. As in the case of bruxism, nightly teeth grinding and jaw clenching can exacerbate the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
However, it is critical that the patient receive a custom fitted night guard. A generic, one size fits all model is not a viable solution. If the night guard is uncomfortable or ill fitting, the patient will not wear it. Invest in a custom fitted unit designed for your particular needs.
Your dentist wants to bring you relief so follow suggestions and guidelines provided. Call us today for more information about either of these topics!