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Do you wake up with a sore jaw and sensitive teeth? It could be a sign of bruxism, which if left untreated, can lead to a severe condition called Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD). To prevent TMD, it’s important to understand what bruxism is, its symptoms and the available treatment options.

What is bruxism?

Bruxism is an involuntary condition in which individuals clench and grind their teeth. While this is common during sleep, it can also occur during the day. According to the American Sleep Association, bruxism affects 10% of American adults and as many as 15% of American children. Although there is no primary cause of bruxism, it is often correlated to stress and anxiety. Medications, caffeine, alcohol, age, family history and other disorders can also increase the risk of teeth grinding.

What are the symptoms of bruxism?

  • Damage to teeth: Constant teeth grinding results in the loss of enamel, which can lead to teeth sensitivity or even decay. In some cases, individuals will develop stress fractures on their teeth! If left untreated, individuals’ teeth may prematurely fracture, leading to extensive reconstructive dentistry.
  • Jaw damage: What starts as mild soreness can eventually lead to TMD, which can be very painful and often causes difficulty chewing and lockjaw. If left untreated, this can cause jaw misalignment that could potentially require surgery.
  • Head pain: The temporomandibular joints — found on each side of the head in front of the ears — are responsible for all your jaw movements, like eating and talking, and connect your lower jaw to the temporal bone of the skull. The grinding and clenching of the jaw can put pressure on these joints, causing pain in the forehead, temples, back of head and neck.

How do you treat bruxism?

While some mild cases do not require any treatment, there are several different options to help prevent tooth damage, relieve discomfort and reduce the chances of developing TMJ.

  • Mouthguard: A professionally fabricated protective guard is the most common treatment for bruxism. It keeps teeth separated to avoid the damage caused by clenching and grinding and is great to wear to bed if you grind your teeth while sleeping.
  • BOTOX®: The treatment isn’t just for wrinkles! BOTOX® is a muscle relaxant that can be used to decrease clenching and grinding, which helps relieve the facial pain and headaches often associated with bruxism.

Are you looking for relief?

From mouthguards and restorative procedures to BOTOX® therapy, Dr. Stante can help you select the right options to prevent, treat and relieve the effects of bruxism and TMJ. To find out what steps you can take to inspect damage and overall oral health,schedule an appointment today!

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