TMJ and Bruxism in Fairfield & Hampton VIC

TDentist | TMJ and Bruxism in Bayside VIChose who suffer from chronic headaches or pain in the neck or shoulders might not have considered calling their dentist in search of a solution. But these symptoms could be related to a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. Other lingering issues of a dubious source, including ringing in the ears and dizziness might also be related.

Chronic symptoms such as these make it difficult to function normally, and this can have a negative impact on your work, social, and family life.

At Sparkle Dental Care, we will determine whether or not you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, and if so, we will recommend treatment that might be able to alleviate your pain. We invite you to take a look below to find some of your questions about TMJ, TMD (temporomandibular disorder) and bruxism answered, then reach out to our Bayside or Farifield dental clinics to book a consultation.

What is the difference between TMD and TMJ, or are they the same thing?

People often use these terms to refer to the same thing, but technically TMD and TMJ refer to two separate things. Here’s how you can differentiate the two:

TMJ—or temporomandibular joints—are the joints and jaw muscles that enable you to open and close your mouth.

TMD— or temporomandibular disorder—is the umbrella under which problems in the joint area associated with the muscles, ligaments and bones are categorized. TMD is the name given to a group of problems that cause pain and discomfort with the TMJ when it is not working properly.

What are common symptoms of TMJ disorders?

Chronic grinding and clenching (bruxism) can lead to TMJ disorders. Common symptoms we see in patients of our Bayside and Fairfield, VIC dental clinics include:

  • Worn, flat teeth
  • Broken restorations
  • Jaw pain
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
  • A stressful lifestyle

How do I protect my teeth against clenching and grinding?

Using non-invasive splints, the dentists at Sparkle Dental Care can help you avoid muscle pain, tooth wear and related TMJ disorders. Each of our splints comfortably fits over your teeth and can be worn when you are sleeping or during the day if necessary.

Wearing the splint causes the upper and lower teeth to be placed slightly apart from each other by just a few millimetres. In turn, this prevents the muscles of the jaw from being fully engaged when the mouth is closed – which in turn prevents pain and related headaches.

Do I have TMJ disorder?

During every patient exam, our dentists will assess the function and anatomy of the TMJ and surrounding soft tissue structures. Checking for clicking, popping, deviation and other factors help us pinpoint whether or not a disorder is present. Chronic stress from inadequate sleep, demanding jobs or medical needs can also cause people to clench or grind their teeth, making it worse.

The biting and wear patterns of the teeth will also be examined. Sometimes simply adjusting the bite or existing restorations can improve the comfort of your jaws throughout day-to-day wear.

We also include TMJ screenings as a part of all new patient exams and routine check-ups.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is one of the most common sleep disorders and is a condition wherein a person clenches or grinds their teeth while they are sleeping. Because this is usually an unconscious behaviour, most people don’t realize they are doing it. Many people discover they are suffering from bruxism when their dentist notices undue wear on their teeth during an examination, or when they seek medical help for the following symptoms:

  • Unexplained headaches or neck pain
  • Pain or limited movement of the jaw
  • Significant pain in the TMJ

How do I know if I have bruxism or a TMJ disorder?

If you wake up in the morning with a headache or sore jaw muscles without any obvious explanation, it’s possible you are suffering from bruxism, which is the unconscious clenching and grinding of teeth. Not only does this cause sufferers the aforementioned pain and discomfort, but it can also be hard on your teeth, ultimately causing undue wear on them. Left untreated, bruxism can lead to the destruction of the jawbone and gum tissue. This puts the health of your teeth at risk.

What are signs that I am clenching or grinding my teeth?

Most people are unaware they are clenching or grinding their teeth until their dentist sees the tell-tale wear on their teeth during a routine examination. Signs include teeth that are worn down or fractured from the force of the grinding. Often your Bayside or Fairfield, VIC dentist will recommend a dental appliance called a mouthguard, which can be worn at night to protect the teeth from the constant pressure. Learning relaxation techniques is another helpful method to help reduce teeth grinding.

In some cases, the symptoms of TMJ disorders will go away on their own. When they persist, non-surgical treatments might include pain relievers and anti-inflammatories available over-the-counter in shops, or prescription muscle relaxants that can help relieve pain caused by muscle spasms in the TMJ.

We might also try non-drug solutions for TMJ symptoms, including oral splints, occlusal guards, physical therapy or relaxation techniques, such as meditation.

What will my dentist do to treat my TMD?

Family | Dentist in Fairfield VICAt our Sparkle Dental Care dental clinics in Bayside and Fairfield, VIC, we like to use a conservative approach in treating TMD. Our dentists will first determine whether your TMD symptoms are a result of bruxism. If there are signs that you are grinding and clenching your teeth while you sleep, we will probably suggest that you are fitted with a nightguard. This oral appliance will bear the brunt of the force of your bruxism, protecting your teeth and helping to protect the jaw joint.

We may also suggest:

  • Applying heat and ice, alternately, at the site of the sore joint
  • Avoiding gum and foods that might cause symptoms to flare up
  • Trying relaxation techniques like meditation to help prevent teeth clenching and grinding

Why are my TMD symptoms worse at night?

Although teeth grinding can happen any time of day, it tends to be an unconscious habit that occurs at night while you are sleeping. When life is stressful, teeth grinding usually gets more severe.

Teeth grinding pain can also happen because the teeth of the upper and lower jaw do not meet properly because they are unbalanced.

I am having jaw pain. What should I do to get started with treatment?

We have many resources at our disposal that can help with pain from TMJ or TMD. If you are like many people, however, you might not think about reaching out to a dental professional for help. But you can protect your overall health by contacting us to seek treatment.

If you have more questions about whether you might have bruxism or a TMJ disorder, we invite you to call either our Bayside, VIC or Fairfield, VIC dental surgery to book an appointment for an examination. Schedule your next appointment with Sparkle Dental Care to learn more about how we can help.