This Could be the Cause of TMJ Disorder

  • Posted on: Dec 30 2017

TMJ/TMD Rapids, MIWe cover a lot of ground during the average dental examination. During these routine visits, it may seem as though we are focusing only on your teeth and gums, but there’s more going on. A vital part of any dental examination is to look for indications that unconscious tooth-grinding or jaw-clenching may be happening. There is a good reason for us to know if there is a problem such as this. Referred to as bruxism, the grinding, and clenching that may occur while you could be putting your entire mouth at risk.

Initially, bruxism may pose a risk of excessive wear and tear on teeth. This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Excessive wear due to pressure sets the stage for cavities and also for gum recession. When clenching is severe or goes on for years, there is a risk that a tooth may crack or chip. There is also a chance that the joints in the jaw, the TMJ, will react to the chronic stress of that daily (or nightly) grind.

Finding the Culprit

One of the ways that we can begin to manage bruxism is to understand why it happens. There are two primary culprits to consider . . .

  • Life carries a fair amount of stress that we all endure from time to time. Even if we do not consciously feel or manage stress, the body will inherently do so. Sometimes, we work through stressors physically, and unconsciously, by tapping our foot or by clenching the jaw.
  • Oral anatomy. Our teeth are meant to fit together in a certain way, with opposing teeth meeting nicely to break apart food. If this meeting does not take place, the jaw will naturally try to adapt, so the puzzles pieces fit. To do so means to stretch and stress the joints, ligaments, and muscles of the jaw. It also means that enamel will wear down at certain points where teeth clash.

Identifying bruxism as a potential cause of TMJ disorder is beneficial because it allows us to develop an appropriate treatment plan. Many people benefit from a comfortable oral appliance alone while they also implement lifestyle habits to reduce stress. Additional therapies, such as heat and cold packs, may also reduce TMJ-related symptoms. Ultimately, we put our background in neuromuscular dentistry to work to restore optimal oral structure so you can regain comfort.

For more information on TMJ treatment in our Grand Rapids office, call 616-458-0631.

Posted in: TMJ Disorder