TMJ/TMD Treatment

Teeth grinding (bruxism) is the unconscious gnashing, grinding, or clenching of the teeth. It usually occurs during sleep. This process can grind away parts of the teeth, leaving flattened, worn-down biting edges; fractured enamel; and painful or loose teeth.

Signs and symptoms of bruxism may include:

  • Teeth grinding or clenching, which may be loud enough to awaken your sleep partner
  • Teeth that are flattened, fractured, chipped or loose
  • Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of your tooth
  • Increased tooth sensitivity
  • Jaw or face pain or soreness
  • Tired or tight jaw muscles
  • Pain that feels like an earache, though it’s actually not a problem with your ear
  • Dull headache originating in the temples
  • Damage from chewing on the inside of your cheek
  • Indentations on your tongue

When to see a dentist

  • Your teeth are worn, damaged or sensitive
  • You have pain in your jaw, face or ear
  • Others complain that you make a grinding noise while you sleep
  • You have a locked jaw that won’t open or close completely

If you notice that your child is grinding his or her teeth — or has other signs or symptoms of bruxism — be sure to mention it at your child’s next dental appointment.

In most cases, bruxism doesn’t cause serious complications. But severe bruxism may lead to:

  • Damage to your teeth, restorations, crowns or jaw
  • Tension-type headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Disorders that occur in the temporomandibular joints (TMJs), located just in front of your ears, which may sound like clicking when you open and close your mouth
Teeth Grinding

What is TMJ

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge joint that connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull, which is immediately in front of the ear on each side of your head. The joints are flexible, which allows the jaw to move smoothly up and down, and side to side. This smooth motion allows you to talk, chew and yawn.  Muscles attached to and surrounding the jaw joint control the position and movement of the jaw. Commonly, disorders of the TMJ are incorrectly called TMJ, but should be called TMD: Temporomandibular joint disorders.

What is TMD

TMD, which stands for temporomandibular joint disorder, happens as a result of problems with the jaw, jaw joint and surrounding facial muscles that control chewing and moving the jaw. The causes of TMD are not always clear, but dentists believe that symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.

Common symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
  • Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open- or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite — as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
  • Swelling on the side of your face

Seek medical attention if you have persistent pain or tenderness in your jaw, or if you can’t open or close your jaw completely. Dr Saager will discuss possible causes and treatments of your problem