Teeth and Jaw Grinding While You Sleep
Bruxism TMJ is a condition that can be very painful as well as socially embarrassing. Let us look at what is Bruxism, what are its symptoms and how you can cure it effectively:
What is this condition?
Bruxism TMJ is a condition where one grinds ones teeth in the night which is usually accompanied by the clenching of jaws resulting in damaged teeth. A mild grinding of teeth happens in most human beings and is not a serious problem. But when this activity is done unconsciously when asleep, it becomes a health issue. TMJ stands for TemporoMandibular Joint which connects the lower jaw to the skull and problems in this region can cause a lot of discomfort. Some bruxers grind or clench during the day when they are anxious or tense and some others do it in their sleep which usually goes undiagnosed.
How does one recognize the condition?
Bruxism TMJ may go unnoticed in most people. A sleeping partner or a parent may notice the grinding as it can be loud. It can result in worn out surface of the teeth, abfractions and sometimes even fractures in the teeth. Due to the excess stress on the jaw it may cause head aches, neck pain, locking of the jaw, difficulty in opening the jaw and popping sounds while chewing. These popping sounds are called TMJ clicking and they may not be painful. A change in the way one bites may also be an indicator of problems in TMJ. It is seen in people who are always angry, frustrated and aggressive and have over competitive tendencies.
Effects of Bruxism TMJ
- Bruxism TMJ can be result in muscle spasms and inflammatory reactions.
- Because of the grinding, the teeth will be of different length and uneven and this will also damage the Temporomandibular joints.
- TMJ facial pain occurs after a nap or in the morning because the continuous clenching and unclenching of jaws results in facial muscles.
- Compression of nerves and blood vessels in the back of the jaw joint can cause headaches, jaw, face and neck pain. And when the muscles go into spasm they can even pinch the nerves leading to your arms and hands resulting in TMJ numbness.
- It may obstruct the airway resulting in obstructive sleep apnea.
While selecting a treatment for the Bruxism TMJ it should aim at eliminating the cause. For mild airway blocking conditions, oral or dental appliances can be used. Where as, if the jaw is in an improper position, one should reposition the jaw using suitable oral or dental appliances. To minimize abrasion of the surfaces of teeth, dental guards or splints are worn. These can be used for helping patients in various ways such as preventing the bruxing patterns, studying the extent of bruxing, preventing damage to the teeth and stabilizing the dental set.
Botox is injected to the jaw muscles which make them weak enough to be unable to grind and clench but not enough to lose the ability to chew and show facial expressions.