Bruxism and TMJ disorder are two common dental problems that affect millions of people worldwide. While they are different conditions, there is a strong link between them, and understanding this relationship is crucial for effective diagnosis and treatment.
Let’s take a closer look at what bruxism and TMJ disorder are, how they're connected, and what a TMJ dentist in Las Vegas can do to manage the symptoms.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, causes patients to clench their jaws unconsciously during sleep. According to estimations, around 30% of adults suffer from this condition to some extent. Bruxism is more common among people who are under stress or suffer from anxiety, but experts can't pinpoint the exact causes behind this oral problem.
When you grind your teeth, you force your upper and lower jaw against each other, exerting pressure on your teeth, facial muscles, and joints. As a result, you might wake up with headaches and pain around your neck and mouth. Bruxism can also lead to tooth enamel erosion, increasing exposure to dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease.
What is TMJ Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is a condition that affects the two joints and surrounding tissues connecting your upper and lower jaw. Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) allow you to open and close your mouth, chew, and move your mandible. Due to different causes, such as injury, misaligned teeth, and arthritis, you put pressure on your TMJ, resulting in symptoms like:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening the mouth
- Difficulty or discomfort when chewing
- Ear pain
How Are Bruxism and TMJ Disorder Related?
The link between bruxism and TMJ disorder is complex and not fully understood. However, research has
found that people with bruxism are more likely to develop TMJ disorder, as the constant clenching can put pressure on your facial joints and cause pain and inflammation.
If left untreated, bruxism can lead to the breakdown of the cartilage in the joint, which produces stiffness and limits the jaw's range of motion.
People under stress or who have anxiety are more likely to grind their teeth, which can lead to increased muscle tension in the jaw and neck area. Since this factor makes joints more vulnerable to damage, they're at greater risk of developing TMJ disorder.
Diagnosing and Treating TMJ Disorder
To diagnose TMJ disorder, a dentist performs a physical exam to check for tenderness and pain in the jaw joint. They also use imaging tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans to get a closer look at the joint and surrounding tissues.
Treatment for TMJ disorder can vary depending on the severity of the condition and the underlying causes. Dentists often use a combination of approaches to manage the symptoms and prevent further damage effectively.
For instance, pain management may involve over-the-counter pain medication or steroid injections to reduce inflammation in the jaw joint.
Physical therapy can help improve jaw movement and reduce pain by strengthening jaw muscles and improving joint mobility. Lifestyle changes such as following a soft diet, avoiding hard or chewy foods, and not chewing gum can also effectively manage TMJ disorder.
In more severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct TMJ disorder, such as when there's damage to the joints or surrounding tissues.
Do You Need to Visit a TMJ Dentist in Las Vegas?
By understanding the link between bruxism and TMJ disorder, you can take steps to prevent and manage these conditions and protect your health. You must see a dentist for a proper diagnosis if you have bruxism or TMJ disorder symptoms. Contact our team today to book an appointment!