What is Bruxism and TMJ Treatment?

Constant teeth-grinding and pain in your jaw and facial muscles are common dental conditions known as bruxism and TMJ disorder (respectively). Though they are different conditions, bruxism and TMJ disorder are closely related, and can be a symptom and/or cause of one another. Whether you experience one or both conditions, treatment is vital to protect your smile from excessive damage, you from discomfort, and to maintain your long-term dental health.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is the clinical term for unconscious, uncontrollable teeth-grinding. In many patients, it occurs during sleep, and is referred to as nighttime bruxism. If it remains unnoticed, or if you hesitate to seek treatment, then bruxism can eventually wear down your chewing surfaces. In more severe cases, the pressure can lead to cracked, fractured, and broken teeth, and can damage your jaw joints, leading to TMJ disorder.

What is TMJ disorder?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. Your lower jaw, or mandible, is connected to your cranium by two TMJs on either side, just in front of each ear. The two jaw joints move in tandem when you open and close your mouth. When they’re exposed to too much stress, TMJs can become damaged, swollen, or misaligned, leading to jaw pain, headaches, popping noises in your jaw, bruxism, and more.

How can treatment help my bite function better?

Bruxism and TMJ treatment revolve around improving your bite function by restoring harmony to your teeth and jaw alignment. To address bruxism, Dr. Petto Messina can often custom-design an oral appliance, or mouthguard, to stop teeth from grinding against each other. For TMJ disorder, a similar appliance can be designed to help the lower jaw rest more comfortably, alleviating stress on the jaw joints.