If you habitually grind your teeth, you may have bruxism, which is a condition where a person is unable to stop grinding or clenching their teeth. Occasional teeth grinding isn’t harmful, but if it persists, it can lead to temporomandibular joint syndrome, also known as TMJ disorder.
Learn more about the risks associated with teeth grinding.
Teeth Grinding Is More Harmful Than You Think
Usually, people who grind their teeth do it out of force of habit, and they may not be aware of it. It can wear down your enamel, which is the white, outermost layer of your teeth. Worst of all, it can result in TMJ disorder, which is a sharp pain in the jaw joint. In severe cases, it can result in hearing and vision loss.
Continue reading to learn how you can stop grinding your teeth to prevent TMJ disorder.
How Do I Know If I’m Grinding My Teeth?
Most people with bruxism usually grind their teeth when they’re asleep. If you have this condition, your significant other or a friend may be the first to notice. If you have any of the following symptoms, you should visit your dentist:
- Sore facial muscles
- Fractured teeth
- Sensitive teeth
Causes of teeth grinding include:
- Sleep apnea
- Crooked teeth
- Misaligned bite
Manage Your Bruxism to Prevent TMJ Disorder
If you suffer from bruxism, it’s important to treat it to prevent TMJ disorder from developing. Your dentist may prescribe one of the following treatment options:
- Sleeping with a night guard: If you grind your teeth when you’re asleep, your dentist can create a customized mouth guard for you to wear at night. This will protect your teeth and prevent further grinding.
- Reduce stress: If your bruxism is stress-related, handling your emotions may improve your condition. Try incorporating mindfulness techniques into your daily routine, such as deep breathing and meditation.
- Practicing jaw relaxation: Your dentist can teach you ways to relax your jaw consciously throughout the day.
I’ve Been Diagnosed with TMJ Disorder. What Should I Do?
Even if you try your best to stop grinding your teeth, you may still end up with TMJ disorder due to a combination of genetics and late-stage bruxism. If your dentist diagnoses you with it, you will have to undergo surgery. Do the following to achieve temporary relief:
- Take pain relievers and anti-inflammatory medication.
- Your doctor may prescribe you a low dose of tricyclic antidepressants, which can help with pain relief.
- Take muscle relaxants to control muscle spasms.
Your dentist will recommend the following surgical procedures:
- Arthrocentesis: A minimally invasive procedure that involves the insertion of small needles into your jaw joint.
- Modified condylotomy: This procedure is performed on the mandible and addresses TMJ disorder indirectly.
- Open-joint surgery: This surgery requires replacement of the jaw joint and is reserved for severe cases.
Contact Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah
If your bruxism has resulted in TMJ disorder, jaw surgery can help you reclaim your life. At Oral & Facial Surgery of Utah, our team of board-certified oral surgeons can show you how your bite will improve after jaw surgery, and we can show you a preview of how your appearance may change. Schedule your consultation today.