Bruxism and TMJ Treatments

Treating Chronic Jaw and Head Pain

You know that waking up with headaches, neck aches, or jaw pain isn’t normal, but you may not know that your dentist may be able to treat it. Many patients seek the help of their regular physicians for chronic pain, only to be given analgesic medications that do not address the root cause. During your routine checkup, Dr. Hawks can determine if your discomfort is due to bruxism or TMJ disorder and, if so, provide an appropriate treatment to help eliminate your pain for good.

Grinding Teeth is Problematic

Teeth grinding and clenching, which goes by the clinical term bruxism, can go on for long periods without you realizing you are doing it. Sometimes a loved one will point it out to you; other times, your dentist will notice during an exam that your teeth are worn or damaged and make the diagnosis. Bruxism can have a number of causal factors, including crooked or missing teeth, a misaligned bite, stress, anxiety, or unhealthy oral habits, such as nail biting or chewing on pens. Bruxism is an unconscious habit that, if not treated, can cause TMJ disorder, tooth loss, and jawbone damage.

Malfunctioning Jaw Joints and Jaw Pain

The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the ball and socket joints that attach the lower jaw to the head. One or both of the TMJs can become imbalanced, inflamed, or damaged, which can place stress on the surrounding nerves and muscles. The end result is TMJ disorder, which is often a complex condition with more than one contributing factor. TMJ disorder can be caused by bruxism, osteoarthritis, stress, jaw dislocation, or a misaligned bite. Symptoms can include pain in the jaw, face, head, ears, neck, and shoulders. You may also have trouble opening or closing your mouth and may experience a clicking or popping when you move your jaw. Your bite may also suddenly feel “off,” which will make biting and chewing food difficult.

Relieving TMJ Disorder and Bruxism Pain

In cases where TMJ disorder and bruxism are caused by stress, treatment may simply consist of learning new ways to reduce the stressors in your life. Dr. Hawks can create custom oral appliances to treat your condition as well. Bruxism patients will benefit from a mouthguard that prevents the teeth from touching while you sleep which will reduce the forces of clenching and grinding and help protect your teeth from damage. An oral splint can help some TMJ disorder patients by holding the jaw in its ideal position, relieving stress on the surrounding nerves and muscles. If your condition is caused by crooked teeth or a bad bite, Dr. Hawks can either correct your problem with Smart Moves clear bracesor refer you to an orthodontist for more traditional braces. For patients whose TMJ disorder is due to teeth that do not meet properly, your West Des Moines dentist can help rebuild your tooth structure with porcelain crowns and veneers so that you can achieve a proper bite.

Do You Suffer from Bruxism or TMJ Pain?

If you experience chronic discomfort related to bruxism or TMJ disorder, then speak with Dr. Hawks about how to find relief. To schedule a consultation, call our dental office in West Des Moines, IA, at (515) 225-6665. Since 1985, Dr. Hawks has proudly served the residents of West Des Moines, as well as Urbandale, Johnston, Waukee, Grimes, and all surrounding communities since 1985.