The relationship between bruxism and temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is unique. Interestingly, bruxism, which refers to teeth grinding or clenching, can be a cause and side effect of TMJ dysfunction.
One thing is for certain: Both bruxism and TMJ disorder (TMD) must be taken seriously, as they can lead to significant tooth damage. If your teeth sustain enough wear or damage from bruxism and/or TMD, you may need to undergo time-consuming, invasive dental work to repair and rebuild them.
Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey is home to one of New Jersey’s foremost authorities in TMD and bruxism. With Drs. Ivan & Allan Stein’s help, you can address the underlying cause of your TMJ problems and/or teeth grinding and recapture a healthy and attractive smile.
Tooth Damage, Bruxism and TMJ
It can be difficult to determine which came first: the TMD or the bruxism. Some compare it to the chicken versus egg argument.
Drs. Stein knows that repetitive teeth grinding or clenching puts enormous stress on the TMJ, which links your lower jaw to your skull. The forces of grinding or clenching can wear down the cartilage cushioning the bones of your jaw joint, or overextend or fatigue the muscles that support the joint.
On the other hand, Drs. Stein also knows that existing problems affecting the TMJ may lead to bruxism. If your upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly, the resulting stress on the jaw joint can lead to grinding or clenching. To compensate for the misalignment, your upper and lower teeth may grind, clench or gnash against each other at night as they struggle to fit together.
Another complicating factor is that you may not even know that you grind or clench. Many people do it while they sleep, and are unaware of the destructive behavior until a dentist spots telltale clues during an oral exam. Teeth that are flattened, chipped, cracked or loose often indicate chronic bruxism.
Regardless of whether TMD caused your bruxism or vice versa, Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey can help.
Repair Damage Caused By Bruxism and TMJ Problems
The first step toward repairing damage caused by bruxism and TMJ problems is to fit you for a custom mouth guard. Worn at night while sleeping, this mouth guard does not stop you from grinding or clenching, but it protects your teeth from extreme force. Another option is to identify your jaw’s ideal, relaxed position and fit you for an orthotic splint to keep your jaw in this position while you sleep.
Drs. Stein has also found it helpful when patients address underlying stress or anxiety that may be contributing to chronic bruxism. Meditation, yoga, physical exercise and therapy are all excellent stress management techniques.
If your upper and lower teeth do not meet each other properly, he will explore orthodontic treatment to improve dental alignment. This will take pressure off of your sensitive jaw joint.
Finally, you may need restorative work to reconstruct teeth that are chipped, cracked, broken or extremely worn. Wearing your mouth guard as directed will help protect your newly restored teeth.
Contact Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey
For more information about bruxism, TMJ disorder and fixing tooth damage caused by these problems, please contact Headache & TMJ Center of New Jersey today. The doctors would be happy to meet with you to discuss your particular needs and concerns.