TMJD (Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction)
Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction Syndrome (TMJD) is a common condition affecting a wide variety of people. TMJD is characterized by severe headaches, jaw pain of varying degrees, limited opening, grinding teeth, and an intermittent ringing in the ears. The vast majority of TMJD sufferers are unaware that the root cause of these problems is something that a dentist can effectively treat.
Reasons for treating TMJD
What does treating TMJD involve?
Bruxism is frequently misdiagnosed or not diagnosed at all because it is only one of several potential causes of tooth wear. Only a trained professional can tell the difference between bruxing wear and wear caused by overly aggressive brushing, acidic soft drinks, abrasive foods, and eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa.
Reasons for the treatment of bruxism
Here are some of the main reasons why bruxism should be promptly treated:
- Gum recession and tooth loss – Bruxism is one of the leading causes of gum recession and tooth loss. It damages the soft tissue directly and leads to loose teeth and deep pockets, where bacteria can colonize and destroy the supporting bone.
- Occlusal trauma – The abnormal wear patterns on the occlusal (chewing) surfaces can lead to fractures in the teeth, which may require restorative treatment.
- Arthritis – In severe and chronic cases, bruxing can eventually lead to painful arthritis in the temporomandibular (TMJ) joints (the joints that allow the jaw to open smoothly).
- Myofascial pain – The grinding associated with bruxism can eventually shorten and blunt the teeth. This can lead to debilitating headaches and muscle pain in the myofascial region.
Treatment options for bruxism
There is no single cure for bruxism, though a variety of helpful devices and tools are available. Here are some common ways in which bruxism is treated:
- Nightguards – An acrylic mouthguard can be designed from tooth impressions to minimize the abrasive action of tooth surfaces during normal sleep. Mouthguards should be worn on a long-term basis to help to stabilize the occlusion as well as prevent damage to teeth and to the temporomandibular joint.
- NTI-tss device – This device is fitted by a health professional and only covers the front teeth. The goal of the NTI-tss is to prevent the grinding of the rear molars by limiting the contraction of the temporalis muscle.
- Botox® – Botox® can be injected into the muscles to relax and weaken them. Botox® is an excellent treatment for bruxism because it weakens the muscles enough to prevent grinding but not enough to interfere with everyday functions like chewing and speaking.
Other methods of treatment include relaxation exercises, stress management education, and biofeedback mechanisms. When the bruxing is under control, there are a variety of dental procedures such as crowns, gum grafts, and crown lengthening that can restore a pleasant aesthetic appearance to the smile.