TMJ and Bruxism

Do you often wake up with headaches or jaw pain? Are your teeth sensitive or worn? If so, you may consider speaking with Dr Scott Makiol about temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism). 

Without treatment or management of the associated symptoms, TMD and bruxism can impact a person’s oral health and quality of life. At Scott Makiol Biodentistry, we offer non-invasive and gentle treatment for TMD and bruxism so you can eat, speak and smile with enhanced function, comfort and ease. 

What Is TMD?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jaw to the skull on each side of the face. These joints allow the jaw to move for speaking, eating and producing facial expressions. 

Temporomandibular joint disorders, also commonly called TMD, are often characterised by tenderness in the jaw or joint itself. Other symptoms include:

  • Grinding or clenching the teeth 
  • Pain or discomfort in the jaw 
  • Aching pain in the ears that spreads to the face
  • A locked jaw – difficulty opening and closing the mouth 
  • Clicking or popping noises when the mouth opens, closes or chews
  • An uneven or uncomfortable bite 
  • Headaches
  • Pain or soreness in the neck or shoulders 
  • Tinnitus 

The Australian Journal of General Practice (AJGP )states that TMD is a common condition, and 60-70 per cent of the population experience symptoms. 

The AJGP also asserts that TMD often affects adults from ages 20 to 40, and women are four times likely to have a jaw joint disorder.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

The cause of a person’s joint disorder varies depending on their medical background and habits. It can also come from uneven upper and lower jaw development. Facial trauma and injury can also cause a jaw joint disorder, and sometimes, there is no definite cause.

How a person’s teeth come together, also known as occlusion, can play a part in joint disorders and may cause movement dysfunction in the jaws. Certain risk factors can elevate the risk of developing a jaw joint disorder, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
  • Connective tissue disorders
  • Autoimmune disorders 
  • A misaligned bite 
  • Long-term teeth grinding and clenching
  • Unaddressed developmental issues

Conservative and Gentle TMJ Treatment 

Performing a clinical assessment and diagnostic imaging, we look at the TMJ and masticatory muscles to determine if the patient has a joint disorder. We create a conservative treatment plan to alleviate the patient’s discomfort and appropriately manage their symptoms based on our findings. 

The AJGP states that 50–90 per cent of patients experience relief with conservative therapy. 

In addition to offering patient education on how to manage symptoms at home, other suggestions may include:

  • Custom mouthguards
  • Occlusal splints 
  • Jaw stretches and exercises
  • Orofacial muscle relaxation
  • Cold or heat therapy
  • A soft diet
  • Jaw rest
  • Massage 
  • Acupuncture 

These non-invasive therapies can help relax tension and pain in the head, neck and jaws. They can also reduce the pressure on the jaws and teeth, protecting your smile from damage. Depending on your unique case, Dr Scott can determine which treatment works best for you. 

How Are TMD and Bruxism Related? 

TMD and bruxism are often closely related because those with TMD may have a bruxism habit, and those who grind and clench their teeth may do so because they have jaw joint disorder. However, they are not mutually exclusive.

Bruxism is prevalent, and symptoms can include severe tooth sensitivity, worn or cracked teeth and headaches. Treating bruxism often involves wearing a custom mouthguard or splint to protect your teeth and gums from undue pressure and damage. 

Effective Treatment for TMJ Pain and Bruxism 

If you live with TMJ pain or bruxism, we invite you to arrange an appointment with us at your earliest convenience. Dr Scott and our team can recommend treatment to keep you comfortable and healthy.