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TMJ vs. Bruxism

Published on March 28th, 2017

Temporomandibular joint disorder, often referred to simply as “TMJ”, and bruxism are two common disorders that often get mixed up with each other. However, although they may have somewhat similar symptoms, their treatments are different—so it’s important to make the distinction between the two of them so that they can be treated appropriately. Below is a description of each disorder, their symptoms, and ways that both are treated.

TMJ

The temporomandibular joint is found on both sides of your jaw. It is the joint that holds the upper and lower portion of the jaw together and allows you to open and close your mouth. When somebody has TMJ disorder, it means that there is a problem with this joint. Most commonly, it refers to the pain and compromised movement of the joint as well as the muscles that surround it. Consequences of TMJ disorder include jaw pain, a clicking sound when the mouth opens or closes, lockjaw, headaches, and difficulty chewing. Night guards are available to help treat TMJ. The night guards used to help treat TMJ are oral appliances that reposition the user’s bite in order to relieve pain or discomfort. Each person is different, so it’s incredibly important that this device be made custom to accommodate each specific patient.

Bruxism

Bruxism is a term used to describe a disorder where a person clenches or grinds their teeth. Most often, bruxism affects a patient at night while they sleep—when they clench or grind their teeth involuntarily. The problem is that continuous clenching or grinding of the teeth wears the teeth down, causing tooth and joint pain alike. Jaw pain and aching muscles are common with this disorder, which is often why it is confused with TMJ. It should be noted, however, that the night guards used to treat bruxism are different from those used to treat TMJ. Bruxism night guards are also oral appliances, but instead of repositioning your bite to relieve jaw discomfort, they are used as a barrier between the upper and lower sets of teeth so that they do not grind or clench.

Both TMJ and bruxism are very common and are entirely treatable. Pure Dental Spa in West Loop & Bloomingdale treat cases of TMJ and bruxism most often with the introduction of a night guard. If you experience TMJ or bruxism, we urge you to schedule your reservation at Pure Dental Spa today!

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