Bruxism Vs. TMJ
Bruxism is an involuntary, unconscious activity during which we clench, grind or tap our teeth. Most people do it at some point in their lives, without any consequences. We sometimes clench or grind our teeth during the day, but mostly we do it while sleeping. If left untreated and unchecked for a long time, bruxism can cause a range of problems. It can cause pain in the jaw, earache or headache, and it can seriously damage teeth. We normally keep our teeth separated and jaws relaxed when sleeping. When the teeth are clenched, the muscles exert huge pressure on the jaws and teeth. If in addition we move our jaws and teeth and gnash them together, the teeth can crack, wear out or chip.
What is the difference between bruxism and TMJ?
One of the most serious consequences of prolonged untreated and unchecked bruxism is TMJ or temporomandibular joint inflammation. This painful condition is caused by the inflammation of the joint that attaches the lower jaw to the skull. Sometimes the surrounding muscles and tissues also get inflamed, increasing the pain and swelling.
Because the TMJ can be caused by other issues, it is important to check with the dentist if the bruxism is the cause. In that case, it is up to the dentist to find out what causes bruxism and address the problem.
The best temporary relief from the painful TMJ caused by bruxism is a good quality mouth guard, which would prevent further pressure on the jaws and offer relief from pain and discomfort.