Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, more commonly referred to as TMD, is a disorder that affects the jaw. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a hinge that connects your jawbone to your skull. When this hinge is not working properly, it can cause a lot of pain. Symptoms include jaw pain, discomfort, difficulty chewing, and locking and/or clicking of the jaw joint.
Bruxism is the medical term for excessive teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw. Bruxism can be a symptom of TMJ, but, adversely, TMJ can cause bruxism in some patients. Both conditions are similar, and it can be very wise to treat both simultaneously.
TMJ Treatment Process
To treat these conditions, your dentist will take x-rays to analyze exactly what is causing the TMD and/or bruxism. From there, a detailed treatment plan can be arranged. A common item used to treat these disorders is a custom fitted mouth guard. After making an imprint of your bite, the team at West Hills Smiles can create a sleep guard that is perfectly molded to your mouth. This can help keep the jaw in a healthy position as well as alleviate stress on the teeth from excessive grinding.
Other Ways to Reduce Bruxism/TMD Symptoms
In addition to dental fixes, many patients experience bruxism due to stress and may have to take additional steps, such as seeing a counselor, to reduce the stress in their life. In addition, the following have been helpful for people suffering from bruxism:
- Cut back on caffeine
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid chewing on anything that is not food (no ice, pen caps, fingernails, etc)
- Techniques to relax the jaw