TMJ and Bruxism

Bruxism is tooth clenching and grinding. It can have a reciprocal relationship with TMJ. Sometimes, bruxism can cause tooth damage that leads to a jaw imbalance, creating TMJ. Other times, jaw imbalance can lead to bruxism and then to tooth damage. In both cases, the worsening TMJ can lead to more severe bruxism and vice versa. 

Bruxism can be triggered by many causes. For some people, it’s a bad habit. Usually, it’s triggered by stress. People clench their teeth during stressful times, which can cause tooth damage. Alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine use can make the problem worse. 

Sometimes, bruxism can be linked to prescription medication. Antidepressants are the most commonly prescribed medication that causes bruxism. 

Other times, bruxism occurs at night, during sleep. This might also be related to stress, but it’s often linked to sleep apnea. 

Other times, people have an imbalanced bite and try to find a comfortable position by clenching their teeth. This puts excessive pressure on the teeth as well as exhausting the muscles, causing jaw pain, face pain, and headaches. 

Identifying Tooth Damage and Wear

There are many signs that bruxism might be damaging your teeth. You might notice that your teeth aren’t as long as they used to be. You might also notice that while some of  your teeth used to be longer than others, now your teeth are all the same length. 

Sometimes you experience excess grit in your mouth related to breaking teeth. 

You might also notice vertical cracks appearing in your teeth. These might be craze lines, shallow cracks that are mostly cosmetic problems. 

Another sign of tooth wear is if your face starts to become crooked as teeth wear down faster on one side of the mouth than the other. Or perhaps you see that the enamel of your teeth has worn down, exposing the darker-colored dentin underneath. 

But not all tooth damage occurs at the biting surface of the tooth. Sometimes, your tooth might develop abfractions. An abfraction is when the tooth enamel flakes off at the gumline. Repeated pressure on the tooth causes it to deform, which makes the rigid enamel flake off where it’s thinnest. 

Treat the Cause of Tooth Damage in Fort Atkinson

If a dentist tries to repair teeth without understanding the cause of tooth damage, it can lead to bad results. The new restorations might feel uncomfortable, and they are likely to fail early. They can actually make your TMJ symptoms worse. 

Before repairing tooth damage, Dr. Stafford will try to find the cause of tooth damage. She will then recommend treatment to address the cause, which might include medication changes and counseling as well as tooth repair and TMJ treatment. 

To learn whether TMJ is responsible for your tooth damage, please call (920) 563-7323 today for an appointment with Dr. Stafford at Bite Align, serving all of Jefferson County from Fort Atkinson.