Bruxism: One of the Leading Causes of TMJ Disorder


TMJ means temporomandibular joint. This particular joint allows a person to chew, speak, yawn, and move his or her jaw whenever the need arises. 

Various connective tissues are surrounding the TMJ. There are tendons, muscles, ligaments, and nerves that keep the bones moving properly. If a problem occurs in the TMJ, it can result in a clicking sound every time the person chews or speaks.

TMD means temporomandibular joint disorder.  TMD is prominent in causing pain and related symptoms to the head, neck, face, and jaw. Generally speaking, this disorder gives a person some problems with talking and eating. It also causes pain and swelling in the face, head, and jaw area. 

The field of chiropractic has been effectively caring for individuals who suffer from TMD for decades now. Various clinical studies have already helped prove that upper cervical chiropractic care can bring relief, even long-term comfort for many patients suffering from TMD.

Bruxism Can Cause TMD

Bruxism is the medical term that means the grinding or clenching of the teeth. Millions of Americans are known to unconsciously grind their teeth or clench their jaws while awake or sleeping. Occasional bruxism is not harmful. However, if bruxism occurs regularly, it’s another story.

Chronic bruxism results in your teeth becoming loose, fractured or damaged, leading to loss. The constant grinding can wear down your teeth to stumps. 

If it becomes a bad habit and not addressed in time, then these possible outcomes may happen:

  • Weakened or cracked teeth
  • Receding gums
  • Damaged jaw joint
  • Headaches
  • Disrupted or disturbed sleep pattern
  • Moderate to severe dental damage
  • Facial pain or Myofascial muscle pain
  • Sore gums
  • Jaw pain and stiffness
  • Loose jaw
  • Other oral health complications

Grinding can wear down your teeth, which may become blunt, short, or fractured. Clenching puts excessive pressure on the tissues, muscles, and other structures around the jaw.

When your bruxism worsens, then TMD can happen. Eventually, it can even change the appearance of your face. Sleep bruxism may become connected with other medical conditions and negatively impact the quality of your life.

How to Find Out If You Grind Your Teeth

Because grinding of the teeth often occurs during sleep, most people are unaware that they suffer from bruxism. Some signs show if you are guilty of bruxism. Here are some of those symptoms:

  • A dull ache in your jaw
  • Constant headache
  • Sore or tired jaw muscles
  • Jaw tenderness
  • Abnormalities in the teeth

Often, most people learn that they grind their teeth because of their loved ones who hear the grinding noises at night.

Bruxism Can Cause More Life Issues Than You Think

Other key symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • Insomnia

Also, excessive bruxism will damage the occlusal surfaces of the teeth, the molars in particular. Bruxism is also the leading cause of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. If the noise bothers your sleeping partner, relationship problems may begin to develop. Severe cases of bruxism can lead to arthritis of the temporomandibular joints.

Why Do Some People Grind Their Teeth?

Stress and anxiety are often the cause of bruxism. People who suffer from bruxism are more likely to have an abnormal bite, crooked, or missing teeth. In some cases, it can also be due to a sleep disorder known as sleep apnea.

Bruxism is an unconscious neuromuscular activity that usually happens during sleep. So, bruxism is just one of the most common sleep disorders.

Tips To Help You Stop Bruxism

Check out these guidelines to help you avoid grinding your teeth:

  • Don’t chew gum as it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and chewing. It also makes you more inclined to grind your teeth even without a piece of gum inside.
  • Avoid chewing on pens or pencils, anything that is not food. 
  • Cut back on any food and drink that contains caffeine, such as chocolate, colas, and coffee.
  • Train yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. Whenever you notice that you grind or clench during the day, you can make this simple move. Move the tip of your tongue between your teeth for a while. This practice will train your jaw muscles to relax instead of clench.
  • Help your jaw muscles relax at night by placing a warm washcloth against your cheek directly in front of your earlobe.
  • Avoid alcohol. You are more inclined to grind your teeth immediately after alcohol consumption.

Upper Cervical Chiropractic Care and TMD

Upper cervical chiropractic care targets the uppermost bones of the upper cervical spine. Chiropractors who practice this field make sure that the atlas (C2) or axis (C2) vertebrae are in proper alignment. The C1 or atlas vertebra is just beneath the skull. It is very close to the jawline. If the atlas vertebra misaligns or moves out of position, it will negatively affect the jaw and the surrounding facial nerves, which leads to various symptoms of TMD. 

These symptoms include pain, swelling, and grinding or popping sound when you yawn, talk, or chew. It clearly explains why TMD pain often radiates down your neck and up into your ear. Everything in this region of the face has intimate connections with each other through muscles, nerves, ligaments, and bones. 

Upper cervical chiropractic care is very gentle. Doctors use specialized x-rays and scanners to help determine the precise position of the misalignment. They use low-force adjustments to realign the bones to their proper place more naturally. As a result, the body readily accepts this natural way of realignment. Thus, it relieves excess pressure on the neck and the spine overall. Finally, it produces a longer-lasting and natural adjustment. 

Once repositioned to its proper place, the body begins healing faster and more naturally. Precise and gentle care is often all it requires to improve most of our patient’s symptoms of TMD. 

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The content and materials provided in this web site are for informational and educational purposes only and are not intended to supplement or comprise a medical diagnosis or other professional opinion, or to be used in lieu of a consultation with a physician or competent health care professional for medical diagnosis and/or treatment. All content and materials including research papers, case studies and testimonials summarizing patients' responses to care are intended for educational purposes only and do not imply a guarantee of benefit. Individual results may vary, depending upon several factors including age of the patient, severity of the condition, severity of the spinal injury, and duration of time the condition has been present.