TOOTH GRINDING & TMJ PROBLEMS
Often people who are under an unusual amount of pressure will deal with their tension and stress by clenching or grinding their teeth while sleeping.
DO YOU GET UP WITH PAIN AND STIFFNESS IN THE JAWS?
ARE YOUR TEETH CHIPPING AWAY?
DO YOU MAKE A SOUND THAT OCCURS WHEN GRINDING THE TEETH TOGETHER NOTICED BY FRIENDS/RELATIVES?
A large number of people clench and grind their teeth. This is mostly a subconscious habit and people do it when they are concentrating or sleeping. It is a difficult habit to control consciously and can cause fracture and heavy wear even of sound teeth. While it is not always possible to 'cure' this habit, we can prevent damage to your teeth by constructing a custom made night guard for your teeth. This is a clear plastic platform, made to fit into grooves, gaps and undercuts of your teeth, so it does not fall out while you sleep
Grinding your teeth at any time is considered a hazard and can affect the total wellbeing of your mouth. Grinding your teeth can cause damage to the temporomandibular joint and can alter your bite. If you hear a clicking or popping in your jaw joints when you chew, you may suffer from temporomandibular joint dysfunction commonly called TMJ.
Although stress-related grinding of your teeth at night is one cause of TMJ, other causes of TMJ have been traced to or associated with a bad bite, poor posture and even sleep positions. Injury or aging can also cause TMJ disorders. TMJ can create headaches; dizziness, buzzing or ringing in the ears and dull pain around the ears that radiates to neck, back and shoulders.
Treatment of TMJ problems varies with the cause. Your dentist may suggest relaxation exercises to reduce tension, a special diet, physical therapy, or your dentist may make an appliance to help relax your jaw muscles and aid in restoring normal joint functions. If you believe that you suffer from a TMJ disorder, tell your dentist so that the condition can be monitored and diagnosed and follow her recommended treatment.
Sometimes the condition, if it has been related to stress, goes of its own accord once a person has adjusted to a situation. However, if bruxing (grinding or clenching of teeth) is an established pattern it is advisable to have it investigated and treated.
Ideally the upper and lower teeth should meet together evenly and comfortably, However, if for some reason this does not happen, bruxism can start as the jaws and the chewing muscles try to grind the teeth into a position where everything feels comfortable.
Often the smoothing down of fillings or teeth that are protruding too far is all that is required to rectify the problem.
Wearing an Oral Splint
Relief from the effects of bruxism can be obtained from wearing an acrylic oral splint (usually at night). The oral splint separates the upper and lower teeth and so protects the teeth from further damage and relieves the soreness in the chewing muscles and jaw joints.
The oral splint is light and, normally, is made to fit top teeth the biting surface of the splint is made quite smooth so that the opposing teeth can slide over it very easily. There are many different designs of oral splints that have been devised for individual problems. The dentist will be happy to explain the benefits of the different oral splints available for your individual problem.