Bruxism (teeth grinding)
Generally we aren’t aware we’re clenching or grinding our teeth, because it happens during sleep. Sometimes, though, teeth grinding can occur when we’re awake and stressed or anxious. Again, we generally don’t notice because we’re preoccupied with the source of the stress.
What we do notice (or our dentist does) is the havoc bruxism wreaks on our teeth. Signs and symptoms of Bruxism and TMD may include:
- Damage to tooth enamel exposing dentine and teeth may appear flattened and worn
- Chipped or broken teeth
- Fractured teeth/enamel
- Loose teeth
- Tooth sensitivity
The action of grinding can also damage the tongue, and strain the soft tissues of the jaw, causing jaw stiffness, pain and inflammation.
Bruxism in adults can have a number of causes, these being:
- Incorrect alignment of the teeth or jaw
- Poor sleeping posture (an incorrect position sending our jaw out of alignment, or compressing the jaw and teeth)
- Poor posture when going about our daily lives, again, leaving our jaws out of alignment
- Incorrectly performed strenuous exercise
- Emotional stress or anxiety
- Substance misuse (particularly the use of amphetamines), or taking prescribed medications that lead to jaw tension
- Poor dietary choices, leading to illness or dehydration
- Caffeine in the diet, leading to increased tension and activity of the jaw
- Lack of sufficient sleep and subsequent tension.
Bruxism and TMJ
Temporomandibular Jaw (TMJ) Dysfunction (also known as TMD) is a major cause of facial pain, and is closely related to teeth grinding.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects your skull and jawbone like a hinge, and allows your jaw to open and close. When you have dysfunction in the joint, it can cause tension and pain. TMJ disorders can be caused by injury, genetics, arthritis, or poor use of the jaw over time.
How do I know if I have TMJ disorder?
A TMJ symptom you may notice is a clicking or popping sound when you open and close your jaw, or even when you chew. This may be due to TMJ. If the clicking is accompanied by pain, it’s worth speaking with a doctor.
There’s a strong association between TMJ disorder and teeth grinding. Long-term teeth grinding can lead to TMJ, and conversely, TMJ can lead to teeth grinding.
With both conditions being detrimental to your jaw and dental health, it’s important to take measures to address them.
How to treat Bruxism and TMJ disorder
There are a number of methods for TMJ treatment and/or bruxism relief, before dental treatments come into it, starting with addressing the causes.
- Take a holistic look at your lifestyle, and identify anything that may be leading to the condition.
- If you are suffering stress, address the cause of the stress, and undertake activities to reduce stress in your life.
- If it’s a postural issue, a physiotherapist can assist by applying massage techniques to relieve tension, assessing your posture, and assigning you exercises to correct postural issues.
- If it’s a sleeping issue, take the time to find the right pillow (one that keeps your neck in alignment with your spine).
- If it’s dietary, improve your diet, eliminate the use of substances, reduce caffeine, and up your water intake.
- Do regular exercises to relieve jaw and neck tension, and use massage techniques to relax your facial muscles. (YouTube has plenty of videos to guide you on the relief of tension and pain associated with teeth grinding and TMD.)
- Get quality sleep.
If these methods don’t lead to an improvement in your situation, you may want to try an alternative treatment to combat TMJ pain.
BOTOX® Treatment for Jaw Tension and TMJ Disorder
At Beachside Complete Dental care and Dental Implant centre, we use BOTOX® as an alternative treatment for TMJ disorder and its associated jaw tension and pain. When injected into afflicted facial muscles, BOTOX® can relieve the symptoms of TMJ for many patients. Injections often eliminate headaches resulting from teeth grinding, and, in cases of severe stress, BOTOX® can even minimise lock-jaw.
How Does BOTOX® Treat Jaw Tension and TMD?
BOTOX ® works to interfere with the temporomandibular joint’s ability to move. It doesn’t stop it moving completely, but reduces the amount of unconscious movement, and serves to cushion the jaw during activities like talking, eating, swallowing, and other everyday activities. This can greatly reduce the tension in the jaw, and the severity of tension headaches for sufferers.
A non-surgical procedure, BOTOX® injections are administered at our dental surgery and are usually a quick, straightforward and effective method for treating TMJ disorder and teeth grinding. Most patients experience noticeable improvement within one or two days of their first treatment, although relief can take up to a week.
Areas targeted by TMJ Botox ® therapy
The injections are mainly in the temporalis, frontalis and masseter areas (pictured in red below). Additional sites may be injected with Botox, depending on the severity of the pain.
Only the targeted areas injected with Botox will be “relaxed.” (Botox treatment for TMJ disorder will not affect other locations in your body.)