Bruxism, clenching or grinding your teeth, can cause significant damage to your teeth and jaws. TMJ can also result in imbalanced jaw forces that lead to tooth damage and wear — it may even destroy the restorations put in place after your teeth were damaged. To protect your teeth and restorations from further damage, it’s crucial to address the jaw dysfunctions that are the root cause of your pain.
Bruxism, teeth clenching and grinding, is often divided into waking bruxism and sleep bruxism, but it’s probably more useful to consider why you might be clenching your teeth either during the day or at night.
Stress is a common cause of bruxism, mostly waking bruxism but also sleep bruxism. Many people clench their jaws in response to stress, either during a stressful task or when thinking about stressful situations. People with bruxism because of stress can benefit from counseling and may want to make lifestyle changes to reduce stress.
Bruxism can also be the result of neurochemical stimuli that causes you to clench your jaw unconsciously. This may be congenital, developmental, or it may be a side effect of medication. Antidepressants like SSRIs (such as Prozac or Zoloft) are among the most commonly prescribed medications that can lead to bruxism.
Bruxism may also be a manifestation of imbalanced jaw muscles trying to find their best resting position. When muscles aren’t at rest in any position they can easily achieve, your muscles may end up fighting against your teeth and jaws to try to reach that rest, which leads to significant tooth damage.
Sleep bruxism may also be related to sleep apnea, as you may clench your jaw to help keep your airway open.
TMJ and Bruxism
Bruxism can be both a cause and effect of TMJ. When you are clenching your teeth, you’re obviously putting stress on your teeth, but at the other side of your jaw is your jaw joint. Bruxism can put excessive forces on your temporomandibular joints, leading to inflammation and even dislocation of the joint.
On the other hand, when your jaw is imbalanced it can lead to more muscle stress, which can trigger involuntary jaw clenching and grinding.
Address the Root Cause of Tooth Damage
If you experience numerous cracked or broken teeth, getting them repaired won’t really help. The restorations will soon experience the same damage and wear that your natural teeth did, unless you determine the cause of your tooth damage.
At the Michigan Center for TMJ & Sleep Wellness, we can help you track down the cause of your teeth wear, and help you find the right treatment, whether that’s TMJ treatment or if you need counseling, neurological care, or other appropriate treatments.