TMJ and Bruxism Problems

TMJ and Bruxism Problems

Image of woman with TMJ pain.

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint which connects the jaw to the skull. When this joint is damaged or has deteriorated from wear, it can be painful. This is called temporomandibular disorder (TMD). Although TMJ is essentially the name of the joint, it is used interchangeably with TMD to classify issues with the joint. 


Bruxism is the habit of grinding or clenching teeth either while sleeping and awake. According to experts, this habit has a strong connection to TMJ problems. If you suffer from bruxism or you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ, get in touch with our team at Star28 Dental Clinic. They are highly trained in managing bruxism and can help you avoid TMJ. 


Signs of Bruxism

Bruxism often goes unnoticed because most patients are unaware that they grind their teeth while awake or sleeping. Some of the common signs of bruxism include waking with clenched teeth, partners complaining about the patient grinding their teeth, waking with tenderness in the cheek muscles, indentations inside the cheek, and excessive dental wear such as loosening or fracturing of teeth. Other signs include clicking when biting down, headache, and pain in the TMJ. 


Causes of Bruxism

Certain factors increase a person’s risk for bruxism, such as stress, genetics, and other disorders like epilepsy and Parkinson’s disease. According to experts, awake bruxism may be caused by stress and anxiety. Other emotions like anger, frustration, and tension can also lead to teeth grinding. Some people also clench their teeth while concentrating intensely or dealing with deep emotions. 


Sleep bruxism also has a connection to genetics. If people in your family have bruxism, your chances of having it are higher than others. Finally, various mental disorders have also been linked to bruxism. These include dementia, Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy, and night terrors. 


Bruxism and TMJ

People with bruxism do not necessarily develop TMJ/TMD. However, in some cases, bruxism can trigger TMD or aggravate a pre-existing condition. Severe bruxism can change a person’s bite and can also shift teeth from their original position. It can also cause tooth damage and result in a misaligned bite. 


In a patient’s mouth, when the upper and lower teeth do not close together, the muscles reposition the TMJ joint to force them to close. This often dislocates or puts pressure on the joints, leading to TMD. Common signs of TMJ include pain or tenderness in the jaw, severe and frequent headaches, pain in and around the ear, and difficulty in opening and closing your mouth. 

Preventing TMD by Managing Bruxism

It is essential to manage bruxism to prevent TMD. Various treatment options can help in the management of teeth grinding. Options include wearing a night guard while sleeping. This custom night guard covers the teeth and prevents them from coming in contact with each other. 


The next option is wearing a splint bite. It prevents unwanted movement of teeth and the jaw and protects from pain and damage caused by teeth clenching. Another method is stress reduction to reduce bruxism, along with making a conscious effort to avoid clenching teeth. 


If you often wake up with a pain in your jaw or feel like your teeth are losing shape because of your habit of teeth clenching, you are an ideal candidate for bruxism management. Call Star28 Dental Clinic today at (714) 523-2828 and book your appointment to start your journey towards a pain-free mouth.