TMJ and Bruxism Treatments in Bethesda

TMJ disorder and bruxism are two conditions that many patients do not know they have until significant pain causes them to seek an answer. Some of the symptoms of these conditions can mimic migraines, ear infections, or sinus problems, so many patients will seek the help of a physician when they really need to see a dentist. Bethesda general dentist Dr. Hornstein offers conservative treatments to help alleviate the discomfort and damage caused by TMJ disorder and bruxism.

TMJ Disorder and Chronic Pain

TMJ disorder, also called TMD or TMJ dysfunction, is a condition that affects the temporomandibular joints. Responsible for holding the lower jaw to the skull, these joints make every movement of your mouth, from eating to speaking to yawning, possible. Sometimes these joints do not function properly, which can be caused by teeth grinding (bruxism), stress, osteoarthritis, jaw injury, malocclusion (misaligned bite), or bad posture. An imbalanced or malfunctioning TMJ strains the adjacent muscles and nerves, which can cause pain in the jaws, face, head, neck, and beyond.

Teeth Grinding and Clenching

Bruxism is the unconscious act of clenching the jaws and grinding the teeth, and it often occurs during sleep. Many people learn they have bruxism when someone else hears the grinding noises and points it out to them. Bruxism can be both a cause and a side effect of TMJ disorder, and the chronic grinding can lead to pain in the jaws and head, as well as tooth wear, tooth breakage, gum disease, jawbone damage, and tooth loss. This condition is often caused by malocclusion, stress, anxiety, certain psychiatric medications, and health conditions such as Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease.

Minimally-Invasive Treatments for TMJ Disorder and Bruxism

In treating TMJ disorder and bruxism, Dr. Hornstein always tries the most conservative approach first. This usually means fitting you with a custom oral splint or nightguard. After determining your jaw’s ideal position, your Bethesda dentist will create a splint that holds it there and can actually reprogram it to stay in this new, relaxed position. Nightguards for bruxism provide a cushioning between upper and lower teeth to help prevent grinding and reduce the forces of clenching, protecting your teeth from damage. If your teeth have already experienced wear or breakage from bruxism, they may not meet properly when you bite, which will only make your bruxism or TMJ dysfunction worse. In these cases, Dr. Hornstein can adjust your occlusion by rebuilding the tooth structure with crowns or veneers, creating an ideal bite. For cases in which teeth or jaws are severely misaligned, he will refer you to an orthodontist or oral surgeon to correct the root cause of the bruxism or TMJ disorder.

Experience the Difference

Dentistry of Bethesda provides compassionate, personalized dental care for all members of your family, including those with special needs. Contact Bethesda dentist Dr. Spencer Hornstein today at (301) 530-2700 to schedule your consultation. We happily treat patients from Silver Spring, North Bethesda, Rockville, Chevy Chase, Potomac, and the surrounding areas.