18 Aug What is bruxism and why does it occur?
Bruxism is the habitual grinding of teeth and clenching of the jaw. Many times, bruxism develops as a response to stress, nervousness, and anxiety. A patient may also clench and grind if they have a malocclusion, which means the upper and lower sets of teeth line up improperly during oral function and when the mouth is closed. Bruxism is a major contributor to tooth wear and TMJ disorder. The development of TMJ disorder may require the attention of a specialist like an oral surgeon.
How does bruxism affect oral structures?
Our teeth are made of very hard and dense tissue that is similar to bone. When teeth scrape and make contact with each other unnecessarily, it causes teeth to wear down and become broken, brittle, or diseased. Damaged teeth are unable to heal on their own and will require restorations like fillings or crowns to protect tooth structure and prevent complications associated with weakened teeth.
Moreover, the habitual nature of clenching and grinding will strain the joints that connect the lower jaw and skull (TMJs) as well as the facial muscles and ligaments that support these joints. The TMJ is one of the most used and important joints in human anatomy. It is responsible for all mouth movement. When the TMJ is strained, patients can develop dysfunctioning joints that produce facial pain and impede one’s ability to open and close their mouths or chew food.
What are symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?
Symptoms of TMJ function vary in severity. Some with TMJ disorder will suffer with debilitating facial pain and headaches. Difficulty speaking or eating is common as well. Many times, TMJ sufferers will experience clicking and popping sensations during oral function. Tooth wear can accompany TMJ disorder since jaw alignment is often affected by this condition.
How is TMJ disorder treated?
Preliminary treatment for TMJ disorder might include restorative dental treatments that rebuild a patient’s teeth to their rightful size and shape. By rebuilding teeth, one’s occlusion can improve. Sometimes stress reduction techniques and therapeutic massage can assist with TMJ disorder – especially when it is caused by bruxism. When these treatments are not enough, corrective surgery might be necessary to reposition misaligned jaws or repair damage to the TMJs.
For more information or to schedule a visit, contact our team at Great River Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery.