Understanding Bruxism & TMJ Disorder: Find Relief from Nighttime Teeth Grinding

178901519Do you often awaken in the morning to find that your jaw is sore or that your neck and shoulders feel tense? Perhaps you suffer from frequent headaches that tend to begin in the area surrounding your temples. These symptoms are common in individuals with nighttime teeth grinding and daily jaw clenching, or bruxism and temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Fortunately, treatment for these orofacial issues is typically non-invasive, affordable, and easily accessible at your dentist’s office.

What Causes Jaw Clenching and Teeth Grinding?

There are a variety of reasons that people with TMD and bruxism engage in the unconscious behavior of teeth grinding and clenching. Malocclusion, or an improper bite, is a major factor, as is daily stress. While you are sleeping, you are not able to stop the overworked muscles in the jaw and face from overtaking themselves further, leading to numerous symptoms that can affect you all day.

For many, the primary complaint related to TMJ disorder is headache pain that interferes with daily functioning. The delicate joints that connect your lower jaw to your cranium can become irritated and inflamed, causing nerve pain that can even spread to your upper back. This can lead to posture problems that further exacerbate the issue. In cases of teeth grinding, the patient is typically unaware that their jaws are placing inordinate amounts of pressure on their teeth all night. Bruxism can cause tooth fractures and enamel erosion, both of which can prove to be serious problems if not treated in a timely manner.

Bruxism & TMJ Treatment

In the majority of cases, a nighttime mouthguard is used to prevent damage to the teeth caused by clenching and grinding. This custom oral appliance fits comfortably in your mouth as you sleep, helping position the jaws properly so that the muscles aren’t unnecessarily strained. Patients who have been clenching their jaws for years are surprised to find that they experience relief from their discomfort in as few as one or two nights with their new appliance.

If you believe that you or someone in your family is suffering with the ill effects of TMJ disorder or bruxism, ask your dentist about a custom oral appliance. Relief could be a phone call away!

Tooth Sensitivity and Your Smile

tooth sensitivityEvery year, dentists all across the country hear complaints from their patients about tooth sensitivity. As a common oral health problem, tooth sensitivity is caused when the gums recede, exposing tooth roots. When hot or cold stimuli come into contact with these roots, a sensation is passed through the tubules in the roots directly to the nerve of the tooth, creating pain.

But, you might be wondering, what causes the gums to recede in the first place? Here are five of them:

Age – Believe it or not, aging plays a role in the level of tooth sensitivity you might experience. Research indicates that patients who are between 25 and 30 could experience more sensitivity than patients of other ages.

Brushing Technique – Depending on how you brush, you could be wearing down the enamel on your teeth, in the process exposing the sensitive dentin underneath. What’s more, brushing incorrectly can also harm the soft tissue of the gums and cause tooth roots to become exposed.

Bruxism – Bruxism is a medical term for something more simple and common—teeth grinding. Patients who struggle with teeth grinding may, over time, cause hairline fractures to develop in their teeth, making them vulnerable to hot or cold stimuli. What’s more, teeth grinding can also wreak havoc on tooth enamel, resulting in erosion of this protective barrier.

Cracked Teeth – When cracks develop in a tooth, it’s possible for bacteria to find a way inside, where it can irritate the interior pulp. As a result, teeth can respond negatively, with the end result being sensitivity.

Gum Disease – Gum disease is caused by bacteria and plaque that have built up around the teeth and gums. If left untreated, this common oral health problem will eventually result in the loss of gum tissue. As a result, tooth roots are exposed and left vulnerable to outside stimuli.

How Can I Protect My Teeth?

If you have problems with sensitive teeth, here are a few tips to keep in mind. First, try using a toothpaste brand that treats sensitivity. For many patients, this can bring the much-needed relief they’ve been looking for. Second, finish your brushing and flossing routine by rinsing with a fluoride rinse. Fluoride draws important minerals to teeth, strengthening them in the process. And lastly, visit your local dentist. By talking to your dentist and letting him or her see your smile, other recommendations can be made about how to help your smile.

Save Your Teeth by Coping with Stress

stressDo you ever feel like circumstances are spinning out of your control? You’re not the only one. If there’s one thing we all have in common fairly often, it’s that stressful situations can occupy our minds and sap our energy. Not only that, stress can actually compromise your health. If you are stressed, it’s more likely that you’ll grind your teeth during sleep. While this bit of information has been around for a while, a recent study shed light on new piece of the teeth-grinding puzzle.

The article published in journal Head and Face Medicine shows that some ways of coping with stress can be healthier for your teeth and jaw than others. Those people who deal with stress by attempting to ignore their problems or internalize them are at higher risk for teeth grinding, also called bruxism. The study found that heavy grinders often used what were termed “negative” coping methods, like ignoring the causes of stress instead of working through problems directly. Continue reading Save Your Teeth by Coping with Stress