Many people are unaware of the proper name for the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. It is known as the temporomandibular joint. Most people simply know it by the more commonly used acronym, TMJ. When this joint gets swollen or inflamed, patients are said to be suffering from a temporomandibular disorder or TMD. In many cases, the two acronyms are used interchangeably. However, they mean two different things.
Any patient suffering from TMD can experience acute discomfort or pain along their jawline. They may even hear clicking sounds as they eat while taking bites of food. Other patients complain of earaches. Those are all symptoms of temporomandibular disorder. Any patient experiencing any of those symptoms should come to our Artistic Dental office for an assessment.
Does Bruxism Impact the TMJ?
Bruxism is considered the most common cause of problems with the TMJ. Bruxism is the formal medical term for when patients clench their jaw or grind their teeth. Most patients experience bruxism during their sleep, although a few do experience it during waking hours. This condition is quite serious. If it is not dealt with and treated properly, it can result in significant problems. These problems may include improper wear of teeth or misalignment of the jaw. The condition will worsen over time, and the early symptoms are often overlooked. In many cases, the patient can suffer from bruxism for years without realizing it.
Causes of Bruxism
There are actually two different kinds of bruxism. The first type is known as awake bruxism and is brought on by anxiety or stress. It causes the patients to clench their jaws tightly and grind their teeth. Stress can be induced by frustration, anger, or tension and results in very severe cases of awake bruxism.
The second type is known as sleep bruxism and is typically caused by genetics. Most patients who suffer from this type have a family history of bruxism. There are some other factors that can contribute to sleep bruxism. These factors include dementia, epilepsy, and Parkinson’s disease.
How Do I Prevent Bruxism?
The good news is while both kinds of bruxism can cause significant damage to the oral cavity, they are treatable. Patients can learn anxiety reduction exercises, as well as stress reduction techniques. While those do help some patients, others need to use a mouthguard. Those patients wear a mouthguard while sleeping, to keep their teeth from touching, so they are unable to grind together. The mouthguard will help to diminish the pain in both the teeth and the jaw. Another appliance, known as a split bite guard, can also be used. It holds the jaw in a single position overnight, so patients are unable to grind their teeth.
Any patient who has a near-constant ache in their jaw or is experiencing pain at the TMJ site should take note. They could have bruxism and not be aware of it. They should come into our Artistic Dental office for an assessment. Our office can also be reached by calling this number: (848) 222-3984. Reach out to our office to schedule your appointment today.