Do you ever wake up with headaches or a tender jaw? You could be suffering from symptoms of bruxism, or teeth grinding. Bruxism occurs most often at night, but can also occur during the day in times of stress or anxiety. Bruxism is also a symptom of temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder.
TMJ happens when the jaw is misaligned or the joints that connect the upper and lower jaw have trouble operating as they should. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including bruxism. Bruxism puts an immense amount of pressure on your jaw, up to ten times more force than when you’re chewing food! What are the causes and symptoms of bruxism, and how can you find relief?
Causes of Bruxism
Bruxism can be caused by an improper bite, which means that your top and bottom row of teeth don’t align like they should. This can happen if orthodontic work is needed and the teeth need to be repositioned in order to align properly. Your dentist can help you determine if orthodontic treatment is needed to correct the problem.
Bruxism can also be caused by TMJ disorder, in which the complex joints that connect your upper and lower jaw aren’t working correctly. Your dentist can diagnose TMJ, as many symptoms of this disorder are mistaken for other health problems such as headaches, earaches, and facial muscle pain.
Anxiety and stress could also be the root cause of your teeth grinding and stiff jaw muscles. If you’re experiencing any symptoms, talk with your dentist about treatment!
Symptoms You May Be Experiencing
The symptoms of temporomandibular stiffness and jaw clenching can range from mildly irritating to very painful. Symptoms may include:
Frequent ear infections
Clicking or grinding jaw noises when speaking, chewing, or even just opening your mouth
Headaches, ranging from dull to migraines
Tender jaw muscles
If you have any of these irritating symptoms, visit your dentist. Dentists are trained to spot problems that could point to a possible TMJ disorder or bruxism when other doctors may not be certain of the cause and try different methods before finding the root problem.
Finding Relief from Stiffness and Jaw Pain
If you suffer from stiffness or pain in your jaw, remember that there is treatment! As bruxism can lead to fractured and sensitive teeth and even periodontal disease and tooth loss, getting the above symptoms checked out by your dentist is crucial for proper treatment and relief.
Your dentist can diagnose the problem and help determine the cause of your jaw stiffness and bruxism, which will determine the treatment. Perhaps you need orthodontic work to correct an improper bite. You may need to wear a nightly mouth guard to protect your smile from bruxism. Your dentist may also need to repair any existing damage to your teeth as a result of bruxism. If you’re suffering from temporomandibular stiffness and bruxism, don’t hesitate to seek help. Your dentist is trained to identify and treat these problems before they end up costing you your smile. Don’t live with the symptoms—there is relief at your dentist office today!
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