Has anyone ever told you that you grind your teeth at night? If you have a sleeping partner, they might have heard it. The condition where you grind or clench your teeth is known as bruxism. Oftentimes, those who suffer from bruxism also have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Bruxism and TMD go hand in hand, but why is that? Learn the differences between bruxism and TMD and how they relate to one another.

young woman having jaw pain

What is TMD?

We are committed to preventive dentistry, so we are always on the alert for symptoms that could lead to chronic difficulties like temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). This is a common problem that involves the joints and muscles used in chewing, swallowing & talking.

TMD can lead to localized symptoms or seemingly unrelated headaches and earaches. One of the first culprits we look for during regular examinations is bruxism.

Patients who suffer from TMD may also experience some of these symptoms:

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the name for forceful grinding and/or clenching of your teeth. Grinding is usually noisy; clenching is silent. Either can create so much stress on the jaw joints that patients experience serious and even debilitating muscle spasms and pain, common symptoms of TMD.

Many individuals are unaware that they “brux”, so we look for telltale signs that include:

  • Worn-down teeth;
  • Sensitive teeth;
  • Chipped or broken teeth;
  • Cracked or loose restorations;
  • Scarring and scalloping of the tongue and cheeks

Correlation Between TMJ and Bruxism

When you grind or clench your teeth at night, it can often lead to TMD. It can also aggravate an existing TMD condition. Over time, bruxism can wear down your teeth and change your bite which can cause your teeth to come together improperly. When the teeth don’t come together right, it can push the temporomandibular joints out of place to push your teeth together which can result in a TMJ disorder.

Since the symptoms of each condition are so similar, it’s important to visit a TMJ dentist for an evaluation for both bruxism and TMD. It’s common to get the two conditions mixed up, just like sinus infections and TMJ.

Diagnosing and Treating TMJ and Bruxism

After a thorough evaluation, which will include a 3D scan of the joints, computerized jaw measurements, and complete examination by Dr. Green, Dr. Spiller or Dr. Van Tassell/about/’ target=’_top’ rel=’noopener’}}}}, we will create an individualized treatment plan and consult with you about options. Oftentimes, we find sleep apnea/services/snoring-and-sleep-apnea’}}}} issues as well and if so, we will discuss this too.

Most patients can benefit from wearing a nightguard while they sleep. The night guard prevents your teeth from being able to touch each other and protects them from any wear or damage. It can also relieve pressure on the jaw joints. However, each patient might have a different treatment plan. We recommend regular dental visits so that we can monitor your oral health – and prevent little problems of all kinds from getting bigger.

Find relief from bruxism and TMJ today. Schedule a consultation with our TMJ dentist in Wichita Falls, TX by calling 940-322-2252.