TMD/TMJ describes a group of diseases that can involve the jaw joints, the muscles that control jaw movement and the dental occlusion. TMJ / TMDs are physical disorders arising from an imbalance in the delicate working relationship of the jaw and skull with the muscles that move the jaw, as well as the nervous system associated with these systems. This imbalance results in muscle fatigue, spasm and/or joint dysfunction, and even changes in the teeth, which in turn cause a variety of symptoms, unique for each person.Temporomandibular disorders (TMJ / TMDs)
Causes of TMJ/TMD
The symptoms of TMJ / TMD, which affect millions of adults and children, can gradually appear with no apparent, specific cause. They also can occur after a trauma, such as a traffic accident or a blow to the face. Even subtle repeated traumas, like clenching the teeth or excessive gum chewing, nail biting or cradling a phone between your shoulder and the side of your head can cause TMJ / TMD . These conditions can also be caused by a bad bite (dental malocclusion), which is not synchronized with healthy muscle and joint function. Systemic diseases and developmental abnormalities also can cause TMJ / TMD.
Bruxism is an oral parafunctional activity which commonly occurs with most people at some point in their lives. The two main characteristics of this condition are grinding the teeth and clenching of the jaw. These actions usually occur during a person’s sleeping hours, but occasionally they occur during the day.
Bruxism is one of the most common known sleep disorders. Chewing is a neuromuscular activity controlled by a subconscious process, but more highly controlled by the brain. During sleep, the subconscious process may become active while the higher control is inactive (asleep), resulting in bruxism. The most common symptoms are earaches and headaches, depression, eating disorders, anxiety, and chronic stress.
Treatment Options for Bruxism
- Botulinum toxin
- Occlusal splint
- Management for sleep apnoea
- Relaxation therapy
Why should I seek treatment for Bruxism?
- Gum Recession — Bruxism is a leading cause of gum recession and tooth loss. Grinding teeth can damage the soft tissue directly and lead to loose teeth and deep pockets where bacteria are able to colonize and decay the supporting bone.
- Facial Pain — Grinding can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to muscle pain in the myofascial region and, in severe cases, incapacitating headaches.
- Occlusal Trauma — The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces of the teeth can lead to fractures, which if left untreated, may require restorative treatment at a later time.
- Arthritis — In the most severe cases, bruxism can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints that allow the jaw to open and close smoothly.