14 Things You Should Know About TMJ
- January 11, 2016
Teeth grinding is a huge issue, and it is more common than many people may realize.
The National Sleep Foundation estimates that 8 percent of the adult population grinds their teeth in their sleep, while a survey of parents indicated that up to one-third of children grind their teeth.
This causes undue wear and tear on your teeth. Fortunately, our dentist at Gentle Dental Care in Plainville knows the signs of teeth grinding, and we can show you how you can stop grinding your teeth, too.
Here are 14 things you should know about teeth grinding and TMJ disorders.
1. The technical term is bruxism.
If you grind or clench your teeth together, this is known as bruxism. It can happen to anyone, although many children will outgrow this condition.
2. You may not know you are grinding your teeth.
Even if you are a habitual teeth grinder, you may not realize you are doing it. Many people who grind their teeth do so in their sleep.
Teeth clenching and grinding may be a response to stress or anxiety. This can be an unconscious response, even when you are awake.
3. Teeth grinding may be causing TMJ problems.
TMJ is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that allows you to open and close your mouth to speak, to bite into food, and to chew your food.
When you grind your teeth together, you are putting added pressure on this joint, which can cause other problems.
4. Pain is a symptom of a TMJ disorder.
It probably won’t surprise you that jaw pain is one of the symptoms of a possible TMJ disorder. You may not realize that the pain can extend much further than that, however.
Headaches, earaches, facial pain, neck pain, and shoulder pain all can be the result of grinding your teeth.
5. TMJ disorders can affect your range of motion.
This means the range of motion of your jaw. A TMJ disorder may limit your ability to open and close your mouth. In some cases, you may lose your ability to move your jaw at all temporarily.
6. Try eating soft foods.
If you do have a TMJ problem, The TMJ Association recommends eating softer foods when you have been experiencing TMJ problems. You can try over-the-counter medicines to ease your pain, too.
7. Try not to aggravate your condition.
When you have a TMJ problem, The TMJ Association says ice can help reduce swelling in your jaw. The association also recommends avoiding big jaw movements, such as when you yawn or sing.
8. You need to seek help if your symptoms persist.
If your pain persists after you have tried eating softer foods, icing your jaw, and avoiding big jaw movements, then you should seek professional help.
9. Gentle Dental Care can help.
Dentists are experts on your mouth, and they can identify, diagnose, and treat TMJ problems.
10. A custom-made mouthguard may be the solution to your problem.
You may have seen over-the-counter mouthguards at the pharmacy, but these are different than the mouthguard you will get from a dentist’s office.
At Gentle Dental Care in Plainville, we can create a custom-fitted mouthguard that you can wear overnight. This will prevent you from grinding your teeth in your sleep.
11. You will need to get used to wearing a mouthguard.
We know because Dr. Peltzer and some of our staff members wear mouthguards. It may take a few nights to adjust, but once you do, you will notice that your TMJ symptoms have gone away.
12. Reducing stress can help.
Counseling, exercise, and relaxation techniques also may help you cope with the stress that contributed to your teeth grinding.
13. Changing your daily habits can help, too.
For some people, alcohol, caffeine, and tobacco use can affect the frequency of their teeth grinding. Using less of these substances may ease your TMJ symptoms as well.
14. Ask questions if you have them.
If you have a TMJ disorder or just think that you might, the worst thing you can do is nothing. If you have questions, please come by our office to talk to us.
We will be happy to examine your mouth and discuss any symptoms you may be experiencing. Pain should not be part of your daily routine. Together, we can find that solution that will work for you.
The first step in finding out how to stop grinding your teeth is calling Gentle Dental Care at 860-479-2397 or using our online form to schedule a visit to our dentist office in Plainville.