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TMJ & Bruxism Problems

Woman holding jaw due to TMJ painTemporomandibular joint disorders and bruxism are two conditions of the jaw that can have similar symptoms and signs. We at Tualatin Family & Cosmetic Dentistry can help you identify which condition you are suffering from, whether they are related to each other, and how to treat them.

What is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder?

Temporomandibular joint disorder refers to a range of issues that affect your jaw joint, the temporomandibular joint, which is located just in front of your ears. This joint or hinge is responsible for moving your jaw up and down and side to side. Any problem which prevents this joint from functioning properly or resulting in pain is termed as TMJ disorder.

The symptoms of TMJ disorders may include pain near the front of your ears, especially while you chew, speak, or yawn. Often, you may hear a clicking, popping, or grating sound when you open or close your mouth. Sometimes, people with TMJD experience lockjaw, in which their jaw gets stuck open or closed. This is also often accompanied by facial, head, and neck ache.

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is an unconscious jaw-muscle activity that is characterized by grinding your teeth or clenching your jaw. It can occur at any time of the day but is particularly problematic when it happens while you are asleep because you are unable to control the movement.

People with bruxism also often suffer from sleep apnea, a potentially serious disorder during which breathing tends to stop repeatedly.

Bruxism may be caused by high levels of stress, genetics, or other health disorders. You may not even know you suffer from bruxism until symptoms like face, head, neck pain, and damage and misalignment of teeth start manifesting.

Can Bruxism Contribute to TMJ Disorders?

People who suffer from bruxism may not necessarily develop temporomandibular joint disorders. However, teeth clenching may eventually contribute towards TMJ disorders or exacerbate an existing TMJ condition.

Moderate to severe bruxism can have a serious negative impact on your TMJ as it directly involves the mandible and the jaw joint. Clenching your jaw can create a pressure of 250 pounds on a tooth surface, while regular chewing movement exerts only 20 to 40 pounds of pressure. This results in excessive force on the jaw joint, soreness of the jaw, earache, headache and neck ache, and tight facial muscles. It can also lead to enamel erosion, which can irrevocably damage your teeth.

How To Cope With Bruxism To Prevent TMJ Disorders

Although the cause of both bruxism and TMJ disorders are not fully understood, Dr. Emerson Rowley, DMD recognizes the conditions are related to emotional and psychological triggers. If you suffer from teeth grinding, it is important to manage the condition to prevent TMJ disorder from developing.

Here are some of the following ways we can help reduce symptoms of bruxism:
•  Reducing stress and anxiety in your life.
•  Wearing a customized mouth guard at night to prevent excessive force on joint and teeth.
•  Making a conscious effort to relax your jaw throughout the day.
•  Work to improve your posture.
•  Do regular jaw-aligning exercise.
•  Avoid chewing on pens or eating chewing gum.
•  Alcohol, caffeine, tobacco, and drug use have been known to aggravate bruxism.

Call us at (503) 878-7474 to schedule an appointment today. We can help you determine if you suffer from bruxism or/and TMJ disorders and recommend the appropriate treatment options.
Tualatin Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

(503) 878-7474
8555 SW Tualatin Rd, Tualatin, OR