Category: Grinding Teeth

Anxiety Bites

Does stress have you gritting your teeth?
It may be a bigger problem than you think.

TMJ disorders can affect overall health

TMJ pain can affect your bite, how you chew… even your sleep patterns!

 

From political upheaval, economic uncertainty, and social change, there is more than ever to be stressed about. From workplaces to schools, social media is also increasing scrutiny and self-consciousness, especially on our children and teens. In fact, one study in Psychology Today study showed that modern high school students experience anxiety levels equal to the average patient in 1950’s mental institutions.

Some health professionals are are pointing out that one of the less-obvious results of higher stress levels is an increase in Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and muscle disorders, collectively known as TMDs. In our popular blog post last year, we showed how the long-term effects of teeth-grinding (Bruxism) and other TMJ-related disorders can be detrimental to your overall health.

What is TMJ?

The TMJ connector is one of the most complex joints in the body, combining both a typical ball and socket with a sliding hinge that allows us to effectively chew a variety of foods. TMDs are typically classified in three categories:

  1.  Myofascial pain – discomfort or soreness around the muscles controlling jaw function
  2.  Internal joint derangement – involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw or injury to the condyle, the rounded end of the jawbone
  3.  Arthritis – degenerative/inflammatory disorders that can affect the joint

The pain from minor TMJ problems may sometimes resolve itself, but persistent discomfort can be a telltale sign of more serious TMD. Common complaints include:

•  Headaches (similar to migraines), earaches, or pain/pressure behind the eyes

•  Clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing your mouth

•  Pain that comes while yawning, widely opening the mouth or chewing

•  Jaws that feel like they “get stuck,” lock up or pop out of place

•  Consistently sore or tender jaw muscles

•  Sudden change in your bite, or how your upper and lower teeth fit together

TMD can have long-lasting negative impacts on your oral and overall health. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, make an appointment to have our professionals at Meyer & Johns Dental assess your situation.

BONUS TIPS:

The top ways to alleviate TMD symptoms, according to Colgate’s online Oral Care Center:

•  Medication – try to eliminate muscle spasm and pain by applying moist heat or taking medication, such as muscle relaxants, aspirin, other over-the-counter pain-relievers/anti-inflammatory drugs.

•  Night guard – reduce the harmful effects of tooth clenching/grinding with a night guard or splint.

•  Relax – learning relaxation techniques to help control muscle tension in the jaw. Your dentist may suggest you seek training or counseling to help eliminate stress.

Bruxism: More Common than It Sounds

Bruxism, commonly known as teeth grinding, is often thought of as nothing more than a “harmless, annoying habit.”

However, grinding your teeth can seriously transform your bite and severely damage your teeth and jaws. Teeth grinding also causes abrasions to the surface of the teeth, which can affect the ability to chew. The abnormal damage caused by bruxism can prematurely age and loosen teeth, which opens them to a variety of issues such as: hypersensitivity, chronic jaw and facial pain and even headaches.

Routine dental exams will expose potential teeth grinding. However, here are a few clues you might grind your teeth:

  • Sore jaw
  • Popping sounds when you open and close your mouth
  • Short or worn look to teeth
  • Small dents in your tongue

Fortunately, there are ways to combat bruxism. One common treatment is a special mouth guard to wear while sleeping.

“Treating bruxism with a mouth guard worn at night is a great way to reduce wear on your teeth and help with sore muscles,” said Dr. Meyer. “A good daytime reminder you can do yourself to help stop clenching and grinding is to remember: lips together, teeth apart.”

If you suspect you grind your teeth, have any of the symptoms such as jaw pain or headaches, or notice abnormal wear or tear on your teeth, make an appointment, today. While the damage of grinding teeth takes place over a prolonged period of time, the damage is very real and can be quite serious. The best solution is to be proactive!