Bruxism and TMJ Disorders

Tempromandibular joint disorder (TMD) are a group of disorders of the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Over 10 million Americans are affected. The condition is more common in women than men. Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your jaw to you scull. Ligaments, muscles, disk, nerves, and arthritis are all anatomical factors that may contribute to maladies of the TMJ. Jaw pain can be caused by arthritis, muscle spasm, or damage to the joint capsule. Clenching and grinding ones teeth is a risk factor fore developing TMD.

Signs and symptoms of TMD may include: pain in jaw and around your ear, discomfort while chewing, limited opening, clicking sounds, headaches, transient open or closed lock, ringing in hears, and changes in your bite. It is important to note that clicking sounds alone do not imply TMD.

In most cases, pain and discomfort associated with TMD are managed with non-surgical treatments, which may include, a splint, muscle relaxants, heat and cold therapy, or massage. The goal of treatment is generally management of pain and inflammation.

Bruxism is a condition of continued grinding or clenching of teeth, often during sleep. There are various degrees of severity and need for treatment. Severe bruxism leads to jaw disorders, headaches, and damaged teeth. Since many people are active bruxers during sleep, they often do not know they are doing it. Diagnosis is generally through signs the dentist observes. Bruxism appears to be an unconscious reflex related to the chewing reflex that is similar to the knee jerk reflex. However, it can be exacerbated by stress, emotions, sleep disorders, medications or abnormal tooth alignment.

Signs of the condition are warn, broken teeth, sensitive teeth, sore jaws which may lead to TMD, and grinding sounds during sleep.

The treatment for bruxism and clenching is through a night guard since most bruxers are more active during sleep. For day time bruxers, a brux guard can be worn during the day and relaxation and behavioral modification exercises practiced. A night guard or brux guard, when made properly will not only protect your teeth from further wear but reduce the reflex to grind or clench. People often feel immediate relief from their symptoms after they start wearing a night guard.

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