TMJD can result from external trauma or, more commonly, from clenching and grinding (Bruxism) of the teeth. Bruxism can damage teeth, the jaw joint, or spasm in the muscles that control the lower jaw (mandible). There may be no noticeable symptoms until you exceed the force level you are used to. You get used to the work your muscles do daily.
Normally your teeth only touch when you swallow or chew for a second or less. Biting pressure is 25 pounds per square inch on the front teeth to 250 pounds on the back teeth.
If you clench or grind your teeth, your jaw moves slightly, and very small areas contact. The forces become concentrated and are ten times the norm. This can go on for minutes to hours, causing tooth wear, craze lines that can progress to cracks, then fractured teeth or restorations, TMJ damage, spasm in various muscles (resulting in headaches behind your eyes, side of head, or face). These muscle spasms can be a trigger for migraines. The heavy forces can cause pain in teeth, gums, and jaw bone or jaw joints.
Diagnosis, preventive treatment, and relief of acute symptoms are areas of expertise in our practice. Acute symptoms can be slow to resolve as you cannot stop using your jaw throughout the day.
There are appliances you can use as a crutch.
Below is a bite guard adjusted by Dr. Payne. Upon closing, the posterior teeth should contact evenly on both sides (blue). When sliding the lower jaw forward, the posterior should not contact only the anterior teeth (red). This decreases the force on the posterior teeth and jaw joints. The appliance is reduced in width to make room for the tongue and allow you to speak normally. Bruxism when concentrating or stressed is common.
Call us at (401) 273-6161 or schedule an appointment with our experienced dentist at our dental office in Providence, RI. We'll be happy to guide you further.