A lot of people hear the word “TMJ” and think this only refers to when your jaw pops or clicks when you open and close your mouth. The temporomandibular joints are a delicate mechanism in the maxillofacial anatomy, with lots of working parts. Bones, ligaments, muscles, and cartilage all have a role to play in the function of the joints for everyday speech and eating. When these joints don’t function optimally, we call this TMJ disorder. This disorder can cause painful symptoms, which may include facial muscle fatigue, the stress in the jaw, headaches, and bruxism (teeth grinding). It may even be correlated with obstructive sleep apnea.

If you suspect you need TMJ treatment, make an appointment with Dr. Farhana Rassiwala. She will examine your teeth, bite, and jaw function and recommend a treatment that addresses your symptoms. Call us at 925-833-9500 to make an appointment at our Dublin, CA dental office.

Signs You May Have TMJ Disorder

Pain and/or a feeling of shifting when you open and close the jaw is often the most obvious symptom of TMJ disorder. You may also experience:

  • Tension headaches
  • Migraines
  • Pain in the face
  • Teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism)
  • Pain in the temples
  • An inability to open the mouth fully
  • Neck pain

What is Bruxism?

Bruxism is the term used to describe the tendency to grind the teeth together or clench the jaw muscles. It is most commonly experienced at night, but some sufferers do it throughout the day. Sometimes a patient will not be aware they suffer this condition, but their partner may notice grinding sounds when they sleep at night. Bruxism is harmful to the teeth because of the constant friction, especially in the molars, can lead to cracking and fractures or a wearing down of tooth enamel.

How are Bruxism and TMJ Disorder Connected?

While experts aren’t exactly sure what causes bruxism, it is strongly correlated with improper bite alignment. It may be caused by muscular tension that results from improper TMJ function. It is known that correcting bite alignment issues with orthodontics can help prevent you from developing TMJ disorder, so people with poor bite alignment tend to develop both of these conditions.

The good news is that bruxism and TMJ disorder can both be treated by your dentist. Describe your symptoms to Dr. Rassiwala, and she will perform an exam and assess whether your symptoms are related to improper jaw function or not. If TMJ disorder is suspected, an oral appliance can correct the position of the teeth. If the jaw seems to be functioning properly, bruxism can be corrected with a night guard that protects the teeth from damage from grinding and clenching.

Is There are Connection to Sleep Apnea?

Both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) are caused by the soft tissues of the airway-relaxing too much for the air to flow freely at night. Since OSA and snoring can often be corrected by slight adjustments the position of the jaw, there is speculation that TMJ disorder and jaw function are also connected. Because OSA can lead to serious medical problems, we always recommend that patients with suspected sleep apnea visit a sleep specialist to conduct a sleep study. If you have been diagnosed with OSA and are not being successfully treated by a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, an oral appliance may help you breathe better at night.

Contact Inspire Smiles Dental for Dublin, CA TMJ treatment. Contact us via our website or call us at 925-833-9500 to make an appointment.

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