TMD Symptoms and Solutions

 

Did you know?

Sleep bruxism is a stereotyped movement disorder characterized by grinding or clenching of the teeth during sleep. 85-90% of the population grinds their teeth to some degree in their lifetime! According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine,

"Bruxism in adults usually begins at age 10 to 20 years. Bruxism is seen in over 50% of normal infants, with a median age of onset at 10.5 months, soon after the eruption of the deciduous incisors."

 

Why do people grind their teeth?

Little is known about the natural history of sleep bruxism. There is a close relationship of the disorder to stress, and it varies with the degree of perceived emotional tension; however, the disorder may be chronic, without any apparent association with stress.

 

How can I know if I grind my teeth?

Because grinding often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth. However, a dull, constant headache or sore jaw is a telltale symptom of bruxism. Many times people learn that they grind their teeth by their loved one who hears the grinding at night. 

 


What happens during bruxism?

Patients suffering from bruxism will unknowingly grind their teeth with tremendous force. When we chew on our food consciously, our teeth only make contact vertically (i.e. top and bottom teeth meet in the center). However, when we grind our teeth unconsciously at night, the lower jaw can move front-to-back and left-to-right. The contact points on our teeth will be offset; together with 8-10 times the force of normal chewing movements, the act of grinding will chip, fracture and wear out the teeth.

Clenching refers to teeth being held together in a strong, forced bite for no functional purpose. Both clenching and grinding generate tremendous force on the teeth, periodontal ligaments, temporomandibular joints and chewing muscles, often leading to headaches, facial muscle pain, ear pain, neck and shoulder aches and jaw fatigue.

 

Why is bruxism (teeth grinding) harmful?

Bruxism affects sufferers in many ways. Some of the adverse effects are short-term and disappear when the bruxism ceases. Others sadly, are long-term or even permanent.

 

Short-term effects of bruxism

  • Headache - Bruxism sufferers are three times more likely to suffer from headaches.
  • Facial myalgia (aching jaw & facial muscles)
  • Ear ache
  • Tightness/stiffness of the shoulders
  • Limitation of mouth opening
  • Sleep disruption
  • Sleep disruption of bed partner due to noise
  • Excess tooth mobility
  • Inflamed & receding gums


Long-term effects of bruxism 

  • Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (sometimes called TMJD or just TMJ)
  • Tooth wear & breakage 

 

What can I do to prevent further damage caused by bruxism?

Although the cause of bruxism cannot be determined and a cure is unknown, dentists can fabricate guards to be worn over your teeth for protection against the grinding forces, as well as to prevent tightening of the jaw muscles which can cause headaches and muscle pain.

 

The following headaches can and should be resolved by a trained dentist:

  • Temporal headaches
  • Masseter facial pain (pain under or over the eye, in the ear, jaw)
  • Pain in the ear (can be accompanied by ringing sounds)
  • Tenderness and pain at the posterior lower border/corner of the jaw.
  • SCM (neck muscle) tenderness
  • Cervical neck pain and tenderness
  • Pain in the occipital region (back of the head)
  • Pain on top of the head
  • Shoulder pain
  • Numbness and tingling in the arms, hands and fingers

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Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJD)

 

What are Temporomandibular Joint Disorders?

TMJ

Temporomandibular Disorders (TMJD), commonly called TMJ, are a complex and poorly understood set of conditions characterized by pain in the jaw joint and surrounding tissues and limitation in jaw movements. Injury and other conditions that routinely affect other joints in the body, such as arthritis, also affect the temporomandibular joint.  One or both joints may be involved and depending on the severity, can affect a person's ability to speak, eat, chew, swallow, make facial expressions, and even breathe.


What are the symptoms?

The Pain of TMJD is often described as a dull, aching pain which comes and goes in the jaw joint and nearby areas.  Some people, however, report no pain, but still have problems using their jaws.

Symptoms can include:

  • Facial pain 
  • Jaw joint pain 
  • Back, Neck, cervical pain 
  • Postural problems (forward head posture) 
  • Pain in the face 
  • Limited opening of the mouth (commonly known as “Locked Jaw”) 
  • Headaches (tension type) 
  • Pain in the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joints 
  • Pain in the occipital (back), temporal (side), frontal (front), or sub-orbital (below the eyes) 
  • Pain behind the eyes – dagger and ice pick feelings 
  • Multiple bites that feels uncomfortable or, “off,” and continually changing 
  • Clenching/bruxing 
  • Tender sensitive teeth to cold 
  • Deviation of the jaw to one side 
  • The jaw locking open or closed 
  • Ringing in the ears, ear pain, and ear congestion feelings
  • Sinus like symptoms 
  • Dizziness or vertigo 
  • Visual Disturbances 
  • Tingling in fingers and hands 
  • Insomnia – difficulty sleeping
  • Muscle Fatigue and tiredness

 

What causes TMJD?

The cause of TMD is not clear, but dentists believe that symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of the jaw or with the parts of the joint itself. Injury to the jaw, temporomandibular joint, or muscles of the head and neck – such as from a heavy blow – can also cause TMD.

There are various types of muscles located in the face and neck area that hold your jaw, control the movement of your jaw, as well as allow you to chew and swallow. This muscle movement is done subconsciously, and if your bite (occlusion) is off, your body automatically strains your muscles to allow for your jaw to work; this is called accommodating. If your bite is off balance, your muscles will work extra hard to hold, control and allow for the chewing and swallowing. This is why over time, the temporomandibular joints become over stressed and temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) or dysfunction occurs. The goal of a Gneuromuscular dentist is to find the natural position of your jaw and restore it to its optimal position in which the system (muscles, teeth and joints) are in balance, thereby eliminating TMJ disorders.


What are the solutions for grinding, clenching and TMJD?

Although bruxism (grinding and clenching) cannot be completely eliminated, our doctors are DP Dental can help you prevent further damage to your teeth, jaw, head and neck muscles with several state-of-the-art options.

Please call us at (+65)6282 0122 for further information and assistance. Our dedicated doctors at DP Dental are trained and certified in providing mouth guards and tension-relieving orthotic guards to help you prevent or resolve TMJD related issues.

 

Say Goodbye to Headaches, say hello to Good Mornings.