The Truth About Your Tooth

If Grinding Is Giving You TMJ, Your Dentist Can Help

Teeth grinding is something that many people do, whether they're aware of it or not. Maybe you've noticed during a stressful situation that you've been clamping your mouth shut. Alternatively, you might wake up in the morning with a sore jaw or a tight temporomandibular joint. If this has happened to you and you're looking for a solution, your dentist may be able to put a stop to your teeth grinding in as little as a single visit to their office. One treatment can potentially provide months to years of improvement. Here's what you should know about it.

Why Grinding is a Problem

Grinding your teeth together might seem like it's not a big deal, but it is. Regular teeth grinding can wear down the enamel on your teeth, increasing your risk of cavities. However, it can also cause tooth loss if it goes on for long enough. While teeth are intended to endure stress while chewing, they're not supposed to be constantly crushed against each other.

As an additional problem, regular grinding can cause stress and strain on the temporomandibular joints, the joints that let your jaw flex. In the short term, this may just be some soreness, especially when you talk or eat. However, like with the teeth, it can get worse over a longer period. Excessive teeth grinding over the long term can wear down the temporomandibular joint, potentially triggering osteoarthritis. This can lead to the joints being stiff, swollen, and sometimes even locking, which depending on when it happens, can keep you from either opening or closing your mouth fully.

How Dentists Improve the Situation

While you might think that a bite guard is your best bet here, there's something your dentist can do to keep you from grinding in the first place. The solution is found with Botox.

Botox is typically used as a cosmetic treatment, but it can also be utilized in certain quality of life treatments too, like this one. By injecting a small amount of Botox into the muscles controlling the jaw joint, your dentist can make the muscles relax, taking the strain off the joints. You'll still be able to speak normally, chew, and open and close your mouth, but extreme clenching won't be as easy to do. Unless you're intent on purposefully clenching your teeth together, you'll find that you'll grind your teeth less, and not as severely. This will help to protect your jaw and teeth alike.

Like all Botox treatments, dental Botox doesn't last forever. However, since you'll be visiting a dentist regularly for cleaning and exams anyway, it's something that you can easily get done when its efficacy begins to wane.