Bruxism, also known as tooth grinding, is the medical term for clenching or grinding teeth. Millions of Americans unconsciously grind their teeth and/or clench their jaw either while awake or during sleep.
TMJ (Temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is an umbrella term covering pain and dysfunction of the muscles that move the jaw and the temporomandibular joints. A large portion of all adults (upto 20%) suffer some degree of pain, but it is not considered life threatening. For more extreme sufferers however, it can restrict movement, be very painful and disruptive to sleep, causing migraines and back pain as well as other aches and pains.
Due to the fact grinding frequently happens during sleep, most people are unaware that they grind their teeth.
Tell-tale symptoms of bruxism include headaches, stiffness, a sore jaw. If you suspect you grind your teeth the best way to check is to ask your dentist if there is any evidence. They are the experts and will examine your mouth and jaw for symptoms of bruxism, together with jaw tenderness and abnormalities on your enamel.
- Headaches and earaches (because of severe jaw muscle contractions)
- Teeth grinding or clenching (can be noisy), often while asleep, others may notice
- Worn, flattened, fractured or chipped teeth
- Worn tooth enamel, exposing deeper layers of tooth
- Increased tooth sensitivity
- Muscle tightness and chronic facial pain
- Chewing muscles and/or jaw joint stiff and sore
- Jaw muscle stiffness and pain, often radiating through face, jaw and neck
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Clicking, and/or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together (movement of jaw structure)