Bruxism is the medical term for teeth clenching and grinding and is frequently linked to another condition called TMJ. TMJ is short for the temporomandibular joint disorder, sometimes called TMD or temporomandibular disorder, and it affects the joint shining your lower jaw.
Bruxism is usually a nocturnal habit, where people clench and grind their teeth during sleep, and it can be extremely destructive. Clenching and grinding places significant pressure on teeth, jaws, and gums. Teeth can wear down prematurely or will chip, crack, or fracture under stress. In extreme cases, teeth are worn to little more than nubs or may loosen. The pressure of bruxism affects the jaw joints, causing inflammation and pain.
TMJ and bruxism can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms, most often, waking up with toothache or jaw pain, or with a chronic headache. The pain caused by bruxism can extend into facial muscles and can even cause earache or tinnitus. The pain may spread from your jaw into your neck and shoulders. Your teeth could feel more sensitive and especially to hot and cold as they become chipped and worn. Your gums might look as if they are receding. When jaw joints are inflamed, it can hinder jaw movement so you could find it painful or difficult to open or move your jaw properly.
If you recognize these symptoms, please come and see us here at City Dental. We can examine your teeth and will quickly identify any signs of bruxism. We will also asses your jaw joints, and if needed, can take detailed diagnostic images to check for signs of inflammation and damage to these joints. The sooner we can diagnose this problem the more quickly we provide suitable treatment to protect your teeth and jaws against further damage.
Usually, treating TMJ and bruxism is fairly straightforward and non-invasive. We can custom make a nightguard or night splint that fits over your teeth, preventing them from contacting so that when you try to clench and grind, your teeth bite harmlessly against the night guard. The night guard protects your teeth and gums from further damage and helps to reduce inflammation in the jaw joints. If bruxism has damaged your teeth, you might need restorative dentistry to repair and protect these teeth.