The temporomandibular joint connects your jaw to the bones of your skull and moves the jaw up and down. If you have problems with this joint (known as temporomandibular disorder or TMD) it can cause a number of different symptoms such as pain, headaches, the jaws getting stuck, clicking or popping, and problems eating.
Teeth grinding and clenching of the jaw (known as bruxism) can contribute to TMD. This usually occurs unconsciously while you are sleeping and is generally caused by stress and anxiety. Bruxism can cause tooth wear, breakage and sensitivity.
How can we treat TMD?
- Splints or night guards – these can be worn to protect the teeth from grinding. Repositioning splints are worn all the time to pull the lower jaw forward and night guards, which cover all the teeth, are worn while you sleep.
- In-ear device – an innovative, discreet device worn in the ear canal to keep the jaw in an open position.
- Medicine – anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin or ibuprofen can help relieve pain and swelling. Muscle relaxants loosen tight muscles and anti-anxiety medicine can help relieve the stress that can lead to teeth grinding.
- Surgery – this may be considered if other treatment options have not proved successful.
If you attend regular check-ups, your dentist will be able to pick up any signs of tooth wear and check the alignment of your jaws.