What is Bruxism and How to Treat it?
If you notice a tight and painful jaw in the morning or your teeth are wearing down, you may suffer from Bruxism. Bruxism is a serious condition where you grind and clench your teeth, oftentimes unknowingly. When left untreated, the excess stress on your teeth, muscles, and jaw can damage the temporomandibular joint, also known as the TMJ, which connects the jaw to your skull. Bruxism and TMJ treatment may be necessary to prevent damaging the joint and your teeth further.
What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
Bruxism is a difficult condition because many individuals may not realize they suffer from it and the symptoms can correspond with other disorders. However, there are several signs of the condition. They include:
- Pain in the jaw
- Worn down, flat teeth
- Damage to the teeth such as chips, cracks, or fractures
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Constant earaches
- Continual headaches
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it is important to visit your dentist for a thorough exam.
What Causes Bruxism?
Bruxism can be the result of several factors. For example, it can be a response to stress, anxiety, and other emotions that are difficult to process. Oral conditions such as crooked bites and missing teeth can also trigger the grinding and clenching actions. Unfortunately, there is not one known cause for the condition. You should talk to your dentist to address possible causes.
How Do You Treat Bruxism?
When you suffer from Bruxism, you must seek treatment options quickly. This condition, if left untreated, can cause significant damage to your teeth and your temporomandibular joint, and you may need pain treatment for TMJ.
One popular Bruxism treatment option is to wear a nightguard, which is a specialized device, custom-made for your mouth. These guards are designed to protect your teeth while you clench and grind in your sleep. While it may not be the solution to break the habit, it may be necessary while you undergo further treatment. Additionally, it is recommended that you watch what you eat when suffering from TMJ conditions. Foods which require significant chewing, such as nuts and gum, put excess strain on the joint. It is also wise to implement stress-relieving techniques into your day-to-day life. Massage therapists can work on the muscles of mastication, as well as tense neck and shoulder muscles, to help provide relief.
Because Bruxism is a leading cause of TMJ pain, TMJ treatment may be necessary. Several treatment options are available including:
- A specialized night guard
- Orthodontic treatments to reposition and align the jaw
- Botox injections
- Pain medications
- Jaw repositioning surgery
- Softer diet for the period of time when the joint is inflamed.
- Referral to a specialist
To determine the level of Bruxism or TMJ treatment needed for your condition, it is important that you discuss your condition with your dentist. They can help you determine your triggers and learn how to avoid them. Bruxism is a serious condition and should not be left to fix itself on its own.