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What Are Bruxism and TMJ?

Most people don’t say “bruxism” in everyday conversation. They might say “TMJ” sometimes, but they often misunderstand it. What do these two terms mean, how are they related, and how can they affect your health?

Bruxism

Bruxism refers to an ongoing condition in which people grind, clench, or gnash their teeth. Some patients do this while they’re awake, whereas others only clench and grind in their sleep. It can be caused by or related to: 

  • Personality traits like competitiveness or aggression.
  • Lifestyles of hurry and stress.
  • Stressful, painful life events.
  • Brain neurotransmitter imbalances that can be treated with medication.

TMJ and TMD Explained

The abbreviation “TMJ” refers to a “temporomandibular joint,” the large joint between your upper and lower jaw. On the other hand, “TMD” stands for, “temporomandibular joint disorder,” which is a condition in which the joint has been damaged or stressed and is causing chronic problems. 

Can Grinding Your Teeth Cause TMD? 

Does bruxism cause TMD? It might in some cases. But the exact cause of TMD isn’t always clear. We know that the TMJ can be in pain when: 

  • An internal disk slips out of place or erodes.
  • The cartilage that covers bone is damaged.
  • The joint is damaged by an accident.

Damage to the intricate parts of the TMJ may be caused by aggressive bruxism. Teeth clenching can gradually change the alignment of your bite, and that can put a new strain on your jaw joints, wearing them down—possibly causing damage and pain or TMD.

Is TMD Treatable?

TMD can be successfully treated, often with a dental mouthguard. This will slide your teeth and jaw into the best position to relieve pain and help your jaw heal naturally. In fact, a mouthguard can treat bruxism too! 

How Do I Know if I Have TMD?

There are multiple reasons you might be experiencing some facial pain, but if your pain is in conjunction with any of the following conditions, you should consider getting tested for TMD.

  • You have arthritis.
  • Your jaw was injured. 
  • You have been diagnosed with bruxism.
  • You have a disease affecting connective tissues in general.

Bruxism and TMD Treatment 

If you’re looking for solutions for TMD or bruxism, please call the office of Dr. Rosenfeld in beautiful Solana Beach. Come to our wellness center for a meeting with our friendly team, and relief from pain.


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