When our jaw joints experience excessive strain, then serious complications can develop, such as TMJ disorder and bruxism. In some cases, these two oral health issues may be connected and a source of poor smile health. What causes TMJ disorder and bruxism and how are these two different jaw joints disorders connected? What treatment options will we offer our Astoria, NY, patients?
TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, occurs as a result of jaw joint strain. Over time, the disorder may eventually makes fully opening and closing the mouth difficult. Factors behind the strain may occur due to injury to the face or jaw, missing teeth, bite imbalance, misalignment, or untreated teeth grinding. As the disorder worsens, patients may begin to experience jaw pain, a popping or clicking sensation in the jaw, headaches, and aches in the neck and shoulders.
Bruxism, or chronic teeth grinding and jaw clenching, eventually wear down the teeth, damaging enamel and even causing cracks or chips to appear. Over time, lack of treatment could mean teeth grinding leading to an increased risk of tooth decay and dental infection. We may grind our teeth as a result of stress, damage to the teeth, missing teeth, misalignment or poor bite balance, and yes, untreated TMJ disorder. Patients should be aware of the symptoms that occur during the day, as most teeth grinding episodes happen at night. You may experience toothaches or tooth sensitivity, pain in your face or jaw, or notice your teeth becoming worn down.
Connections and Treatment Options
Untreated TMJ disorder places pressure on the jaw joints, pressure that could make teeth grinding more likely, and vice versa. Undergoing routine checkups is important since these visits enable the dentist to look for the signs of wear and friction that could indicate the presence of either disorder. We also use digital x-rays to obtain clear images of your jaw joints, another way of pinpointing the presence of teeth grinding or jaw joint strain. Treatment could include our ClearCorrect invisible orthodontics, or a new restoration, such as a crown or veneer. We may also suggest muscle exercises or holding a warm washcloth against the side of the face to ease the strain.
However, treatment for either issue may involve the creation of a custom-made oral appliance. Worn at night, the device will fit comfortably and fit very similar to a mouthguard. The device repositions the jaw to ease tension, while also providing a barrier between the upper and lower sets of teeth to prevent further damage.
Do You Have Questions About Preventive Dentistry?
With preventive dentistry, we can help you enjoy optimal oral health. For more information on treating TMD and teeth grinding, schedule a consultation with us by calling Jeffrey Leibowitz, DDS, in Astoria, NY, today at 718-728-8320.