If you clench/grind your teeth constantly, you likely have a condition known as bruxism. While no treatment is required for mild bruxism, severe bruxism may negatively affect the health of your jaw and teeth.
Often, bruxism is related to TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) — a painful condition that occurs when the jaw joint isn’t aligned well.
While you can have both bruxism and TMJ together, they may also occur independently.
As a leading supplier of dentist recommended mouthguard, we discuss everything you need to know about bruxism and TMJ:
What is bruxism?
Bruxism is a technical term for teeth clenching/grinding. This habit can cause you to grind/clench your teeth unconsciously at night while asleep (sleep bruxism) or during the day (awake bruxism). Teeth grinding may signify other conditions, such as stress, anxiety, snoring, and TMJ. Some symptoms of teeth grinding are:
- Limited jaw movement
- Sleep disruptions
- Ear ache-like pain
- Facial, neck, or jaw pain
- Tired jaw muscles
- Sensitive teeth
- Chipped/cracked teeth
- Worn tooth enamel
What is TMJ?
TMJ (or TMD) is a condition in which the misalignment of your jaw causes pain in your temporomandibular joint and may radiate to cause other symptoms. Sitting right in front of your ears, your temporomandibular joint connects your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull. You have one on each side of your head. If you have TMJ, you can experience the following symptoms:
- Limited mouth opening
- Ringing in the ears
- Ear congestion
- Ear pain
- Worn teeth from grinding/clenching
- Loose/sensitive teeth
- Numbness in your arms/fingers
- Tingling of the fingertips
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- Soreness/stiffness in the back, shoulders, and neck
Although teeth grinding is part of this list, the two conditions are separate, and having one doesn’t mean that you have the other as well.
How can bruxism contribute to TMD?
People who clench their jaw or grind their teeth don’t necessarily develop TMD. However, bruxism can aggravate an existing condition or lead to TMD in certain cases.
Over time, severe bruxism may change your bite. Excessive grinding may gradually push your teeth out of their appropriate position. Bruxism may also damage your teeth and dental restorations, misaligning your bite. If your lower and upper teeth don’t close together as they should, your muscles may force your teeth together as they reposition the temporomandibular joints out of their sockets.
The symptoms of TMD and bruxism are quite similar. See your dentist immediately if you experience any of the following:
- Pain in/around your ear
- Difficulty opening/closing your mouth
- Pain/tenderness of your face, neck, or jaw
- Frequent, severe headaches
Manage bruxism to prevent TMD
If you have bruxism, managing the condition is important to prevent TMD from developing. Following are some methods that can help you avoid clenching/grinding your teeth:
Make a conscious effort to relax your jaw
You should learn to relax your jaw throughout the day.
Reduce your stress
If your bruxism is related to stress/anxiety, reducing these emotions can help you improve your condition. Stress management techniques like meditation and deep breathing can be beneficial.
Wear a bite splint
You should wear a bite splint to prevent damage and alleviate the pain that bruxism can cause. This splint will prevent unwanted movement of your jaw and teeth.
Sleep with a night guard
If you grind your teeth while asleep, get a custom mouth guard from Clear Comfort Night Guards. This will safeguard your teeth, helping you avoid any further damage.
Don’t ignore sleep hygiene
You’re advised to avoid caffeine, alcohol, and large meals within three hours of bedtime. You should also improve the sleep environment by ensuring minimal noise, little or no light, and ensuring there are no pets/children in the bedroom. Also, try to go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
If your bruxism is occurring during the day, then advice and education are required to help change habits like jaw clenching, pencil chewing, and nail biting. Determining and addressing stressors in your daily life can be helpful. In certain cases, you may also benefit from exercises, breathing training, and relaxation therapy.
If you have a misaligned bite or dental damage due to bruxism, this must be treated to reduce your risk of developing TMD.
Shop night teeth guard from Clear Comfort Night Guards and protect your teeth from jaw pain and bruxism-related damage
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