Since virtually all people clench and grind their teeth to some degree, the widespread application of bite appliances is needed to minimize the long-term effects on the teeth and supporting tissues. This damaging habit is called bruxism. Research shows that people clench and grind approximately 50/50 night and day, but the nighttime frequency is greater since our proprioception system (sensory receptors that detect the motion or position of your body) is reduced while we are asleep.
Clenching/grinding and periodontal (gum) disease are our two greatest obstacles to keeping our teeth for a lifetime. The result is the shortening and flattening of our front teeth, making us look older as they wear down, as well as the splitting and breaking of back molars as we sleep during stressful times and when we get older and have airway problems associated with snoring and sleep apnea.
TMJ Treatment in Plano TX
At Sensational Smiles, our dentist in Plano, TX can make you a comfortable thermoplastic appliance that is custom-fit to your teeth. When worn at night, these appliances are designed in such a way that the muscle activity from clenching and grinding is reduced by 40%. This protects the teeth and reduces stress on the jaw muscles and jaw joint that causes TMJ pain.
Recognizing that bruxism starts with a jaw muscle malfunction, not a bite problem, this device actually interrupts the involuntary tug of war between the jaw’s side and temporal muscles, reducing clenching intensity by one-third. Further, the device causes the muscles to relax in a stable position so that you and those hyperactive malfunctioning muscles can rest. Often this eliminates bruxism-related headaches and/or various kinds of TMJ/TMD pain within just a few days of Plano-based TMJ dentist Dr. Sowell fitting the device. Also used is the anterior deprogrammer or mini-deprogrammer illustrated below, which has been shown to decrease clenching and grinding even more than the full arch appliance and is more comfortable for our patients.
Causes & Symptoms of Teeth Grinding
The tendency to constantly clench or grind the teeth can be related to poor stress management. In fact, bruxers (grinders) are often those people who react to stress with anger, pain, frustration, aggression or competition. Since it’s a harmful habit that wears down biting surfaces, misaligns the bite and can lead to serious dental problems, we screen each patient for warning signs:
- Unexplained sensitivity in teeth and gums
- Jaw pain
- Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain
- Popping of the jaw
- Clicking of the jaw
- Tense muscles
- Excessive wear or flatness on teeth
- Worn enamel, partially exposed and sensitive tooth interior (dentin)
- Tongue indentations
There is no specific cause for teeth grinding, but stress is one of the most common. Also, sleep arousals associated with sleep apnea as well as GERD (gastrointestinal reflux disease) cause clenching and grinding.
In severe cases, we may find that frequent clenching of the jaws and grinding teeth has moved the entire jaw out of balance. Once identified, Plano TMJ dentist Dr. Sowell along with his neuromuscular team can often treat bruxism with a revolutionary little acrylic mouthpiece called the NTI-tss device. It’s one of several TMD/TMJ treatments he offers to reduce or eliminate TMD pain, TMJ pain, popping of the jaw or clicking of the jaw.
5×5 overlay coverage
- Bite plate with centrals and laterals contacting only
- Posterior teeth just out of contact, or
- Open enough for no interferences during function
TMJ Disorder FAQs
Can a TMJ disorder be cured?
Yes. We can alleviate TMJ pain and fix the source with treatments like orthodontics, oral appliances, and therapies.
Can TMJ cause neck pain?
Yes. TMJ can cause neck pain, ear aches, and other secondary issues that are not directly associated with the jaw. If you are experiencing symptoms, but don’t know if it’s TMJ, schedule a visit right away.
Which doctor treats TMJ?
There is no direct medical specialty that addresses temporomandibular joint issues. Your best option is to see your dentist because he is the most trained in addressing issues regarding facial muscles, jaw, teeth and gums.
Will TMJ pain go away on its own?
It may, but there is no certainty. It’s likely to go away on its own if it’s a very minor and temporary issue. Although, if you have been living with TMJ pain for a while, it will not go away on its own without medical intervention.
Is surgery necessary for TMJ pain?
In severe cases, yes. Surgery may be necessary if your jaw can not be repositioned with orthodontics and oral appliances. Do not assume you need oral surgery before visiting our dentist for a consultation.