Grinding, Clenching & TMJ

Most of us will have a period in our life where we grind or clench our teeth. This habit is caused by a neurologic pathway being set off by stress. If you clench or grind for an extended period of time, you are likely to wear down your teeth and / or crack your teeth or dental work.

The stress that causes grinding and clenching is not only emotional stress – physical stress can also cause it. Physical stressors commonly seen in our daily lives stem from:

  • Musculo-skeletal problems
  • Previous injury to the jaw
  • A history of orthodontics (braces) or wisdom teeth removal
  • Dehydration 

Temporomandibular joint dysfunction (TMJ) is a painful condition in the joint that opens and closes the mouth. These joints are in front of each ear and connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the skull. This disorder affects the jaw joint, the teeth and the muscles surrounding it. TMJ is often responsible for: 

  • Daily headaches or even migraines
  • Fractured teeth
  • Clicking and locking of the jaw joint

Clenching, grinding and TMJ are major causes of teeth problems and pain. The treatment of these conditions often involves wearing a splint, however a holistic assessment can usually offer alternate solutions as first options. 

At bc dental, we first examine the area surrounding your TMJ to determine the condition of the muscles supporting your joints. We will also examine your teeth to see what, if any, damage has occurred. 

When recommended home care and physiotherapy is unsuccessful in preventing grinding, we suggest using one of our soft trainer splints. This soft splint protects your teeth and joints while we work with you to try and establish the cause of grinding. In over 90% of cases this is effective in preventing further damage to your teeth. In some cases acrylic splints may be necessary.

Click here for Instructions for mouthguard use and care

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