What is bruxism and why does it occur?


bigstock-Funny-Couple-Laughing-With-A-W-72444880_small-300x200Bruxism is the habit of grinding and/or clenching one’s teeth. This habit normally develops after a person repeatedly grinds or clenches his or her teeth as a response to tension, anxiety, or stress. Developing the habit of bruxism is bad for your oral health. It can wear down teeth, contribute to occlusal issues, and cause TMJ dysfunction. As bruxism develops into a regular habit, patients will begin to lose awareness of the fact that they are clenching and grinding their teeth. Fortunately, there are treatments for bruxism and the damage it causes oral health.

How does bruxism affect teeth?

Bruxism causes teeth to make improper contact. Repeated contact between teeth can lead to permanent enamel damage. This is because the sharp edges of teeth scrape against the surfaces of other teeth. Over time, bruxism will wear cracks in tooth enamel. Sometimes teeth can be so weakened by bruxism that they are brittle and easily chipped.

What is the TMJ?

The temporomandibular joints are located just under the ears on either side of the face. This joint connects the lower mandible to the skull. The TMJs facilitate mouth movement by repositioning the lower jaw forward, backward, and side to side during oral function. TMJs also work with tendons and facial muscles, which support smooth and comfortable mouth movement.

What is TMJ disorder?

TMJ disorder occurs when these joints dysfunction. Disruptions in the way the TMJs work can cause uncomfortable and inefficient mouth movement. TMJ dysfunction greatly effects quality of life by causing orofacial pain, limited oral function, and headaches. The symptoms of TMJ dysfunction can vary but some patients suffer with severe, debilitating symptoms on a daily basis.

How is bruxism and TMJ disorder treated?

There are a few different types of treatment that can assist with reducing the incidence of bruxism and TMJ dysfunction. Some patients benefit from using nightguards, which are oral appliances that protect teeth during sleep. Others might need treatment such as jaw surgery from an oral surgeon.

If you have questions about bruxism or TMJ disorder, call our office at Austin Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery to reserve an appointment.