Agoura Hills, CA
Do you grind your teeth? If so, you may have a common condition called bruxism. Defined as the unconscious clenching or grinding of teeth, bruxism occurs in nearly 8% of Americans. While mild bruxism does not generally require treatment, moderate or severe disease may result in cracked, flattened or sensitive teeth and may even progress to a painful misalignment of your jaw, called temporomandibular joint dysfunction. If you or a loved one think you might be grinding your teeth, the experts here at Artistic Smiles are here to help you learn more.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism is a medical condition in which the muscles of your jaw rhythmically tense and relax, grinding the lower teeth against the upper ones. Most often, this occurs during sleep, but it can also happen when you’re awake. This constant grinding wears down the enamel - the hard coating on your teeth - leading to tooth fractures or weakened teeth, as well as pain and sensitivity. In extreme cases, it can lead to jaw, face and ear pain and may even cause headaches. The most common cause of awake bruxism is stress, as many people clench or grind their teeth while concentrating or experiencing intense emotion. However, there are many other risk factors for bruxism. If you have a family history of teeth clenching, you are more likely to develop bruxism. You are also more likely to develop bruxism if you have sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea or night terrors, or certain medical conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease or epilepsy.
What Is Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)?
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) works like a sliding hinge, connecting your jaw to the bones of your face. Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD) is a disorder in which this joint becomes misaligned. Symptoms of TMD include pain or sensitivity or your jaw, face, ear or temporomandibular joints, headache, and a locking or clicking sensation in your jaw joint. TMJ can be caused by a variety of factors, including facial trauma and arthritis. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, can also lead to TMJ Dysfunction. However, not all people who grind their teeth get TMJ Dysfunction, and not all instances of TMJ Dysfunction have a known cause.
How Are Bruxism and TMD Related?
The relationship between bruxism and TMJ dysfunction is complicated. Bruxism can be caused by TMD, but more often, bruxism causes or aggravates existing TMD. Severe bruxism can cause damage to your teeth and even push them out of alignment. If your teeth are out of alignment, your upper and lower teeth may not come together properly when you bite, causing the muscles of your jaw to pull the temporomandibular joint out of alignment, resulting in TMD.
How Do I Prevent Damage From TMD?
The best way to prevent TMD is to prevent damage from bruxism. The most common way to do this is to wear a night mouthguard that prevents you from grinding your teeth while you sleep. Your jaw is incredibly powerful and can exert up to 1300 Newtons of force with a single bite. Custom-made to wear while you sleep, night mouthguards can absorb and disperse this force, preventing damage and misalignment of your teeth. Bite splints can also help prevent TMD by preventing unwanted jaw movement. If you suffer from awake bruxism, stress management and exercises that help you consciously relax your jaw may also be of use. Since TMD and bruxism have similar symptoms and are often related, they can be difficult to diagnose and treat. Luckily the experts at Artistic Smiles are specially trained in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ-related disorders.
Call (818) 930-5647 to schedule your appointment today!