TMJ & Bruxism

do you have a pain in the jaw?

Tooth grinding and clenching may happen during waking hours but are most damaging and frequently occur during sleep. They are known as ‘bruxism’ when occurring during sleep. Often we can exert much more pressure during this time than when we are awake, and this can lead to many problems in and around the facial area. Neuromuscular dentistry is the term used when looking at bite problems and habits and assessing the function of your jaw joints and muscles. Problems that may occur include:

  • tooth sensitivity and pain
  • clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joints
  • headaches
  • facial, ear, eye, neck, shoulder or back pain
  • pain or tenderness in and around the jaw joints especially upon waking
  • worn tooth surfaces
  • broken or chipped teeth

These symptoms need careful evaluation and may be treated by a combination of therapies. Quite often, people are unaware that symptoms they are suffering are related to their teeth and bruxism.

Many people will gain much relief by being provided with a bite guard, known as an occlusal splint, for night time wear. These are accurately fitting, custom made appliances that look a bit like a small mouthguard, but are made of hard rigid plastic. Many people happily sleep with these all night. They have the effect of preventing teeth meeting during sleep, helping to take the load off our muscle and joint system. This helps to relieve the soft tissue symptoms of grinding and also protect the teeth from cracking and breaking.

Sometimes drug therapy, physiotherapy and psychological management is also required. Quite often, taking some anti-inflammatory medication may assist in relieving symptoms, as well as massage and changing to a soft diet for a short period to take the pressure of the muscular system.

macquarieDentists works with a physiotherapist who has higher training in this particular area. Often, patients will be recommended to consult with him, and undertake various exercises, massage and therapies to help relieve the symptoms of bruxism.

macquarieDentists always look for signs of bruxism when carrying out a comprehensive examination of a patient’s mouth.