Tooth grinding | Avenue Dental Sunshine Coast

The TMJ is the joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull.  Pain in and around the jaw joint is referred to as temporo-mandibular joint dysfunction or TMD for short.  Most commonly, teeth grinding is the cause of TMD.  Symptoms of TMD include:

Jaw pain on waking in the morning or pain that comes on in the evening

Clicking jaw joint

Stiffness in the jaw

Locking of the jaw joint

Earache

Limited mouth opening

Sore teeth when chewing

Sensitive teeth

Breaking teeth and dental work regularly

Tinnitus

There are many ways which jaw pain can occur. The most common is pain from grinding the teeth against each other, which usually occurs during sleep.  People may also clench their teeth which can be caused by stress, anxiety or concentrating. Habits such as nail biting, and chewing pens or pencils can also cause pain in the jaw joints and muscles in the face and around the jaw joint. Even overworking the muscles such as chewing gum or excessive talking can cause symptoms.

Most commonly TMD is caused from the jaw joints and muscles being overused.  This is much like overworking the muscles at the gym, which causes them to become inflamed and sore.

If TMD is left untreated, other than pain it can have consequences for the teeth themselves. Teeth can wear down as a result of grinding.  The length of a healthy unworn front tooth is about 10 – 11mm, if a tooth is worn down even a few millimeters this can mean 30% or more of the tooth is worn completely away.  Sometimes the teeth can wear so extensively until only a couple of millimeters of tooth structure remains, at this point treatment options become limited.   Often before this point the teeth will wear so much that the nerves become exposed and this can be very painful. It is usually a slow process so most people are not aware of it happening.

Our dentists are able to assess the jaw joint and muscles surrounding it to detect any problems. They will also assess the way the teeth come together when you bite and any wear on the teeth. If any problems are found then options will be explained and you can decide which way is best for you to treat the problem. The good thing is that when treated early the detrimental effects of grinding can be prevented.

If you have jaw pain, have noticed your teeth wearing down or think you may grind your teeth at night then it is best to consult a dentist to discuss your options.  All of the dentists at each of the Avenue Dental locations in Caloundra, Kawana and Maroochydore are skilled at assessing and treating teeth grinding and TMD.

See Smile Gallery – Cosmetic Dentistry for cases that have needed to have teeth rebuilt because of grinding.