If you grind and clench your teeth at night (bruxism) or experience chronic jaw pain (TMJ dysfunction), you may be in need of a custom crafted nightguard to renew full, healthy jaw function. At Tylan Creek Family Dentistry, we offer patients a variety of treatment options to help them relieve pain and renew jaw function. If you’re interested in learning more about nightguards and other treatments for TMJ dysfunction and bruxism, call to schedule an appointment with us in our Powdersville, Greenwood, or Simpsonville dental office. We’ll help you determine whether or not you’re suffering from one of these two oral health conditions and provide effective treatments to fully renew oral health.
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect the jaw to the skull bone. When properly functioning, these joints allow us to speak, chew, and smile without pain or impediment. When the TMJ are strained or damaged, sharing even the smallest smile can send shockwaves of pain through the jaw, head, and neck. When this occurs, patients are said to be suffering from TMJ dysfunction.
Bruxism is the term used for unconscious teeth grinding and clenching. Most patients experience bruxism during sleep. However, patients with severe bruxism may grind or clench their teeth all day long. In some cases, patients only experience bruxism at times of stress, but others grind and clench their teeth throughout their lifetime – even as children. It’s not always clear why patients develop this habit. Unfortunately, without treatment, bruxism can lead to dental wear, chips, and cracks, and the excessive jaw movement and pressure is one of the main causes of TMJ dysfunction.
There are many different types of nightguards available to help patients with TMJ dysfunction and bruxism. If you grind or clench your teeth at night, but you don’t experience any symptoms of TMJ dysfunction, a simple grinding appliance may be effective to prevent damage. These nightguards simply place a physical barrier between the rows of teeth to help patients avoid excessive wear or other damage to the teeth. Patients with TMJ dysfunction may need appliances that are a little more complex. These nightguards position the jaw in the ideal resting place to relieve strain on the jaw joints and prevent unconscious movements. When worn regularly at night, these TMJ appliances can significantly reduce pain and inflammation, allowing patients to speak, chew, and smile without discomfort or impediment.
Other treatments for bruxism and TMJ dysfunction will be geared toward treating underlying causes of these oral health issues. Stress is a major contributor to both TMJ dysfunction and bruxism. In many cases, finding ways to better manage stress can reduce the effects of these two oral health conditions. The alignment of the bite (way the teeth fit together and function while chewing) is another common cause of both of these oral health conditions. If patients need to align their smiles, we may recommend orthodontic treatment working with a skilled orthodontist or ClearCorrect alignment tray braces in our office. Other treatments may include physical therapy to relieve strain on the TMJ, pain relieving medications, and/or the use of ice packs to relieve pain and swelling.