Bruxism and TMJ Treatment
Chronic head, neck or jaw pain can undermine concentration and the ability to achieve a restful night’s sleep. Often, the cause of pain can result from a teeth-grinding habit, also known as bruxism.
What Is Bruxism?
Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, is an involuntary habit. It typically occurs during sleep, but can also occur during the day. If you have a family member who has bruxism, you'll be familiar with the noisy sound of teeth grinding against each other. People often describe the sound of hearing someone "brux" or grind as sounding like the chewing of gravel! As you would imagine, this sort of habit is not great for your teeth, and can also wreak havoc on your head and neck muscles.
Jaw muscles can exert an enormous amount of force, especially unconsciously during sleep. This may lead to chipped or fractured teeth, an abscess, or premature wear to teeth.
Bruxism usually occurs at night, and you may not be aware of it unless noticed by a partner or family member. The biggest giveaway that you are grinding your teeth at night is a feeling of tightness in the jaw upon waking in the morning. There are also other signs to watch out for that may indicate that teeth grinding is putting your oral health at risk:
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Neck or shoulder pain
- Worn teeth
- Cracked teeth
- Bony growths beneath the tongue
- Bite marks inside the mouth
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Sensitive teeth
- Gum recession
Living with chronic symptoms may negatively impact your quality of life, especially as they progress. Our gentle and knowledgeable dentists will discuss your symptoms with you and look for signs of a teeth-grinding habit. We will explain your options and help you make a choice that works for you.
Jaw Pain – TMJ or TMD
When left untreated, bruxism can damage the jaw joints, leading to a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ/TMD. While bruxism is not the only cause of TMJ disorders, it is the most common. Other causes include uneven growth patterns and a misaligned bite.
If you have TMD, you may notice some of these symptoms.
- Pain in and around your ears
- Facial pain
- Clicking, popping or locking joints
- Swelling of the muscles and tendons around the jaw
At North Brisbane Dental Clinic, we offer convenient and comfortable solutions to protect your teeth while you sleep.
Occlusal Splint Therapy (Night Guard)
A splint provides a barrier between the upper and lower teeth, preventing damage due to enamel grinding against enamel. The acrylic used in our splints is strong but not as hard as enamel, so it creates a gentle cushion, which can prevent damage.
We will take a 3D scan of teeth to fabricate a custom oral appliance. Since your night guard will endure grinding and pressure while you sleep, we should check it occasionally for holes, cracks or damage. If in doubt, please bring it along with you to your next examination so your dentist can take a look and check that it's still funcitoning well.
With regular splint wear, the jaw muscles will begin to relax. Most patients notice a reduction of symptoms in less than one week.
There are some physiotherapists that specialise in working with the muscles in and around the TMJ. Our dentists may recommend adjunctive treatment with a physio specifically trained in head, neck and jaw issues in order to effectively manage your TMD.
We Welcome You to Contact Us
If you suffer from jaw or tooth pain, contact our surgery located in Wooloowin, and our helpful team will arrange a time for you to speak with one of our dentists. You can call us on 3632 8100 or email us using our contact form.
We look forward to helping you achieve greater comfort and a healthy smile with the treatments we offer.