Although you may grind or clench your teeth during the day, teeth grinding is more common overnight while you sleep. This can result in headaches, soreness in the jaw and sensitive teeth. Also known as bruxism, teeth grinding can wear your teeth down and lead to sleeping issues as well as further health complications.
Bruxism and Temporomandibular Joint Disorders
A temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is one of the main causes of bruxism. There is one of these joints on either side of the head, and they connect the jawbone to the skull — and are integral to chewing and speaking.
A TMJ disorder causes pain in the jaw and surrounding muscles, and can result in teeth grinding.
There are dental specialists who can help. TMJ dentistry is geared to alleviating pain from a TMJ disorder, treating the condition to help prevent potentially long-lasting damage to your teeth caused by bruxism. If at all possible, a TMJ dentist will look to stop you from grinding your teeth altogether.
Treatments for Bruxism
One of the first ways a dentist may help treat your bruxism is by providing a custom-made mouthguard. This is one of the more common TMJ treatments for addressing teeth grinding, as the mouthguard places a barrier between the upper and lower rows of teeth.
By protecting the teeth with a mouthguard you can reduce the effects of teeth grinding and limit damage to the teeth.
Splints are another method to reduce the effects and pain caused by teeth grinding. A splint may cover the top or bottom row of teeth, depending on your individual symptoms.
A splint can also lightly guide the teeth in to a more relaxed position as you sleep.
Stress as a Cause of Bruxism
While TMJ dentistry looks to reduce the effects of bruxism, another major contributing factor to teeth grinding is stress. A TMJ dentist can also provide recommendations on how to better cope with and limit your stress.
These recommendations on stress work in tandem with devices like a mouthguard or a splint to reduce your symptoms.
TMJ dentistry can help you sleep better by reducing the symptoms and pain from TMJ disorder induced bruxism. The longer you delay seeing a dentist about your teeth grinding, the more severe the long-term damage to your teeth.