TMJ Disorders and Bruxism

TMJ Disorders and Bruxism

What is Bruxism?

Tooth grinding and/or clenching is also known as Bruxism. A habitual occurrence of both bruxism and clenching can severely affect both your teeth and your TMJ (temporo-mandibular jaw joints).

Bruxism is very common and can be a habit or a deep seated unconscious reflex which happens mostly at night and is often difficult to stop. As part of any dental examination we screen for tooth grinding and signs of tooth wear as if it is caught and treated early, it can prevent devastating tooth loss.

How Can Bruxism Damage My Teeth?

The inside of the tooth known as dentine is much softer than the hard, outer enamel, and so wear can suddenly become much more destructive if it breaks through into the inner layer. Think of a lolly with a hard, outer shell and which is soft inside, a bit like a smartie. In addition, when crucial functional teeth wear down, this can lead to other teeth becoming involved in biting forces that they are not designed to withstand. Worn teeth are generally painless although some of the complications of tooth grinding are;

  • An increase in sensitivity
  • Localised gum recession
  • Fractured teeth
  • Broken fillings
  • Broken crowns
  • Uneven rough and sharp surfaces to your teeth

How Does Bruxism Affect the Jaw Joints?

An even bigger complication of tooth grinding (bruxism) and clenching is the strain on the TMJ joints (jaw joints) which are connected to muscles which run over the temples and around the back of the neck and head. It can lead to a syndrome known as Tempro-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMD or TMJD) and is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people.

TMD is often characterized by;

  • Severe headaches
  • Jaw pain of varying degrees
  • Waking up in the morning with jaw pain
  • Clicking of the right or left side of the jaw
  • Pain when opening and closing the mouth
  • Locking of the jaw into an open or closed position
  • Grinding teeth
  • Intermittent ringing in the ears

The vast majority of sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.

The symptoms of TMD are debilitating and can greatly interfere with everyday life. The comfort and general well-being of the patient is at the heart of the Redcliffe Dental practice, so pain relief is the first consideration of our dentists. We are able to diagnose TMD and devise an immediate plan to treat and manage the condition.