Bruxism is the clamping together of the upper and lower teeth while simultaneously moving your jaw from side to side. Clenching is solely pressing your teeth together without the sideways movement. We have found that some patients only brux, while other patients just clench. However, some people brux and clench at the same time. This clenching can cause pressure on the muscles, tissues and other surrounding structures of the jaw, which in turn can cause jaw joint disorders, headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, tense muscles and excessive wear on your teeth. Collectively, these symptoms are referred to as TMD. If not treated, bruxism and clenching can cause damage to the temporomandibular joint, which can lead to more sever symptoms of TMD.
While there is no cure for bruxism and clenching, the condition can be managed through treatment. We will give you a thorough examination, during which time we will take a dental impression of your mouth. This will help us to determine the extent of wear and tear on your teeth, gums and jaw. We may recommend you wear a dental guard at night. This guard is designed to protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching and grinding by providing a protective cushion between the upper and lower teeth. It also protects the teeth and surrounding areas from any further damage.
It is estimated that 28 million Americans suffer from “migraine” headaches, a type of headache that can be debilitating. There are 2 common scenarios that trigger these painful headaches. The first is related to the temporalis muscle. This is a “fan” shaped muscle that has an extensive origin on the side of the skull and assists you in closing your jaw. Often due to excessive bruxism, malocclusion and postural problems, the temporalis muscle can go into a painful spasm. Because of its location on each side of the skull, spasm of the temporalis muscle can contribute to moderate to painful headaches.
The other triggering factor of sever headaches are related to TMD/TMJ. Most people don’t realize that headaches are one of the most common symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). When your temporomandibular joint is out of alignment, it causes the muscles in your face, head and neck that surround the joint, to strain at everything they do. Even while at rest, the muscles are having excess stress placed on them because of the misaligned joint. When the muscles are constantly strained or contracted they can cause tension headaches, or TMJ migraines. TMJ headaches are often so painful, severe and frequent that they are often misdiagnosed as migraines.
We will work with you to diagnose your symptoms and determine whether your headaches are being caused by TMD related symptoms, or symptoms related to bruxism and clenching. During your initial consultation, you will be given a thorough examination, including making a mold of your mouth. To treat these headaches we will most likely recommend that you wear a mouth guard, or orthotic. The orthotic can help to alleviate the constant state of tension your muscles are in and begin to relax the surrounding muscles as well as place the jaw in its optimal position. This has proven a successful treatment for most headaches related to bruxism, clenching and TMJ/TMD.
Sleep Apnea is a major health concern for millions of people. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly while sleeping. In some cases breathing can stop hundreds of times during the night and does not resume for up to a minute, or at times longer. One of the most common symptoms of sleep apnea is snoring. Both can be treated with custom made oral appliances that will help minimize the effects of sleep apnea and other related symptoms.
The most common form of sleep apnea is called Obstructive sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by a blockage in your airway, usually when the soft tissue (your tongue, soft palate and pharyngeal walls) in the rear of the throat collapses when you sleep.
Snoring is caused by a partially obstructed airway. When you sleep, the soft tissue and muscles in your mouth relax causing your airway to become smaller. If your airway becomes small enough, your soft palate and uvula begin to vibrate when you inhale and exhale. These vibrations are what cause snoring.
We will give you a thorough examination during which we will make molds of your mouth. As part of your treatment, we may recommend you being fitted for a custom made oral appliance that you would wear during sleep. Worn in the mouth like an orthodontic appliance, oral appliances keep the soft tissue from collapsing and interrupting normal breathing patterns. Essentially, this appliance will help minimize the effects of sleep apnea, including snoring, by preventing airway obstruction. It will reposition the lower jaw, tongue, soft palate and hyoid bone to keep the airway open, allowing you to breath more easily and continuously.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. The TMJ is the articulation between the mandible, or lower joint with the temporal bone of the skull.
TMJ disorders (TMD) occur when the skull and jawbones fail to work in harmony, forcing your muscles to strain, even in the rest or bite position. Often times, your teeth don’t come together correctly, which causes muscles to use extra force and the joints to shift away from their natural position. The pain and discomfort caused by TMD may be mild or moderate to severe. It can also be intermittent or constant and may last for many years. TMD can lead to headaches, damage to the teeth or jaw joint and other problematic symptoms.
There are a variety of factors that may lead to you suffering from TMD, including misalignment of the teeth and jaw, compromised dental work such as missing teeth and trauma and muscle stress, such as clenching and grinding.
During your consultation, we will give you a thorough examination, including making a mold of your mouth, to help us identify your symptoms as they relate to TMD. Once we have determined if there is any damage to the muscles, jaw joint and/or bite, we may recommend wearing a custom made bite splint called an orthotic. The orthotic will help relieve pain, stabilize the bite and correct the relationship of the biting surfaces of the upper and lower teeth by gently repositioning the jaw. Over time your joint should heal and get into the habit of resting, chewing and swallowing in a more healthy and relaxed position.