If you suspect you may have an issue with your TMJ, Dr. Easter and staff can determine if a nightguard is right for you, as nightguards can be an effective method of hindering the effects of TMD-related teeth clenching.
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) controls many functions of your jaw, including speaking, yawning, and chewing. It is a very complex joint in that it not only rotates, but it also slides when you open wide. Your TMJ connects your skull and mandible (jawbone) at the temporal bone. We treat patients who feel discomfort in the TMJ in order to prevent temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD) as described below.
Teeth clenching and/or grinding is a serious problem that adversely affects your both your long-term oral and physical health. While you may catch yourself clenching your teeth during the day, the larger issue with patients who suffer from teeth clenching occurs unconsciously during sleep.
Teeth clenching (also characterized by gnashing or grinding) is a condition called Bruxism. Bruxism has a number of possible causes which medical professionals believe to be a combination of physical, psychological and genetic factors. Patients suffering from bruxism also tend to experience TMJ and sleep-related disorders such as restless sleep, sore facial muscles, morning headaches, jaw disorders, earaches and more.
But more obviously, teeth clenching damages your teeth by wearing down the tooth enamel or by causing fractures. This erosion leads to flattening, chipping, fracturing or loosening of the teeth if left untreated for a long enough time.
Eventually, the deeper layers of the tooth are exposed, which increases pain and sensitivity. But, more importantly, this will usually lead to serious TMJ problems called TMD. This is a life-altering jaw problem associated continual headaches, jaw popping, limited jaw opening and joint deterioration that may lead to the necessity of many surgeries.
The best remedy for teeth grinding is a custom-fit nightguard. Not unlike those we produce for athletes, nightguards form to your teeth and provide a layer of protection while you sleep. Nightguards are extremely durable and can last up to a decade before replacement is necessary.
How To Prevent Teeth Grinding
If you suffer from bruxism, avoid gum, candy, toothpicks, pens, straws or anything you chew on. Breaking your chewing habit makes it easier to condition your jaw to stop clenching. Teeth grinding is also linked to drinking alcohol and caffeine, as reliance on these substances increases stress and anxiety levels.