What is bruxism and why does it occur?
Bruxism is a condition in which patients grind or clench their teeth, typically without even being conscious of it. These actions often occur when the patient is sleeping. Patients who are suffering from bruxism may experience symptoms such as muscle tension or discomfort in the jaw and noticeable wear and tear on the teeth.
A number of factors may cause or contribute to a case of bruxism. The condition often develops as a response to underlying stress. Bruxism also may correlate with a jaw malfunction known as a TMJ (for temporomandibular joint) disorder. In TMJ, the jaw’s components do not work together properly to facilitate the jaw’s desired movement. That condition features symptoms including jaw, facial and ear pain as well as a tendency for the jaw to make popping or clicking sounds or even lock during choosing. When bruxism is present, it can exacerbate TMJ symptoms.
Bruxism and TMJ disorders can put your oral health at risk, but fortunately there are effective interventions to address both conditions. Your first step on the path to treatment will be to schedule a consultation with an oral surgeon.
The oral surgeon will examine the various structures of your jaw to determine which particular component is at fault for your condition. This process will involve a visual exam/inspection as well as imaging, such as x-rays.
The indicated treatment will depend on the surgeon’s findings. If bruxism appears to be the only concern, it may be possible to address the condition by having the patient wear an appliance at night to prevent the teeth from coming together. Stress management techniques can also be helpful in treating bruxism.
When a TMJ disorder is present, however, more involved interventions are likely. The patient may need to undergo a surgical procedure to “reset” the jaw components that are out of whack.
Do you think you may have bruxism or a TMJ disorder? Contact our team at Stonebriar Facial & Oral Surgery to schedule an evaluation. Once you have a confirmed diagnosis, you can pursue treatment and get symptom relief.