When learning about TMJ you often discover that teeth grinding or bruxism is a common symptom. While You can have both TMJ and bruxism together, they can also occur independently.

man with TMJ

What is TMJ?

TMD (commonly called TMJ) is an acronym for “temporomandibular joint disorder.” This is a disorder where the misalignment of your jaw causes pain in your temporomandibular joint and can radiate to cause other symptoms. Your temporomandibular joints sit right in front of your ears and connect your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. You have one on each side of your head. When you have TMJ, you can experience symptoms such as:

  • Headaches or migraines
  • Stiffness or soreness in the neck, shoulders, and back
  • Facial pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Tingling of the fingertips
  • Numbness in your fingers or arms
  • Sensitive teeth or loose teeth
  • Worn teeth from clenching or grinding
  • Dizziness
  • Ear Pain
  • Ear congestion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Limited mouth opening
  • Insomnia

While teeth grinding is on this list, the two conditions are separate, and having one does not mean that you have the other. 

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is a technical term for teeth grinding or clenching. This habit can cause you to clench or grind your teeth unconsciously during the day (awake bruxism) or at night while you’re sleeping (sleep bruxism). Teeth grinding can signify other conditions, like TMJ, snoring, anxiety, and stress. Symptoms of teeth grinding are:

  • Worn tooth enamel
  • Cracked or chipped teeth
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Tired jaw muscles
  • Jaw, neck, or facial pain
  • Ear ache-like pain
  • Headaches
  • Sleep disruptions
  • Limited jaw movement

Why TMJ and Bruxism Are Often Connected

As you can see, TMJ and bruxism have many of the same symptoms; headaches, jaw pain, facial pain, neck pain, sensitive teeth, ear pain, worn teeth, and limited jaw movement. It’s easy to see why one would think they always go hand in hand. They don’t always, but sometimes they can.

TMJ is caused by an imbalance in your jaw joints. Habitual and prolonged teeth grinding can wear down your teeth so much that you may develop an imbalanced jaw. Conversely, the stress of the pain from TMJ can cause you to grind your teeth more often to offset the pain. 

Either way, you can find relief from the symptoms of bruxism and TMJ.

TMJ Treatment in Burkburnett, TX

TMJ treatment can take on many forms depending on why your jaw becomes imbalanced. Trauma, tooth loss, imbalanced dental treatments, gum disease, and grinding are all possibilities. 

Trauma If your TMJ is caused by trauma, often, it will resolve on its own as your injury heals and no professional medical intervention is needed. However, if it doesn’t, intervention from your neuromuscular dentist may be necessary. 

Tooth Loss – If your TMJ is caused by tooth loss from gum disease or habitual grinding, you’ll need to undergo reconstruction to balance the jaw joints. Reconstruction could be dental implants to replace the missing teeth, dental crowns, or dental bridges.

Imbalanced Dental Treatments – Dental treatments that cause your teeth to come together unnaturally can cause TMJ. In this case, it could be simply replacing an old filling with something sleeker or replacing a restoration that wasn’t placed or appropriately sized.

Worn Teeth – TMJ caused by worn teeth can be treated with dental veneers, crowns, or other restorations depending on the severity of the wear. In the case of worn teeth, you’ll need to wear an orthotic (mouth guard) that keeps you from grinding your teeth at night. The same grinding that ruined your natural teeth can destroy your veneers, crowns, or restorations. 

Dr. Kyle Clark will use advanced technology to relax your jaw in all cases. Then, he will measure the location of your jaw when it is in the optimal position. Finally, Dr. Clark will restore your teeth accordingly or create an orthotic that will hold your jaw in the correct place.

Bruxism Treatment

Bruxism is treated similarly to TMJ. Dr. Clark will examine your teeth to see any damage created by the chronic grinding. If you have any tooth damage, he will repair the teeth with either dental veneers, crowns, or in severe cases, restorations like dental implants. Once he repairs your teeth, Dr. Clark will fit you with a custom orthotic that you’ll wear at night. Your new orthotic will protect your teeth from grinding, and eventually, you’ll stop. With no more wear and tear on your teeth, you’ll be free of the painful bruxism symptoms like headaches and sensitive teeth. 

Do I have TMJ, Bruxism, or Both?

The only real way to diagnose TMJ and bruxism is to come in for an appointment with your neuromuscular dentist in Burkburnett, TX. Dr. Clark is experienced in treating TMJ and bruxism and can customize your treatment plan. Make an appointment online today to live pain-free.