Bruxism and TMJ Disorder: What is the difference?

 January 19, 2018

TMJ DubuqueBruxism and TMJ disorder are common issues that affect oral function and health. Bruxism is defined as the habit of clenching and grinding teeth whereas TMJ disorder involves damaged or stressed temporomandibular joints impairing oral function. While these conditions are different, their symptoms and effects on oral function can overlap. It is common to have patients with TMJ disorder brux their teeth. In some instances, bruxism can lead to TMJ disorder.

What are the TMJs?

Everyone has two temporomandibular joints. Each is located just beneath the ears and they connect the lower mandible (jaw) to the skull. This joint and its supportive structures like facial muscles and tendons create mouth movement. For instance, every time a person yawns, laughs, eats, or speaks, the TMJs are engaged.

What causes TMJ disorder?

A variety of issues contributes to TMJ disorder. This condition can develop due to problems associated with the bite (occlusion). Tooth wear, orthodontic issues, and misaligned jaws can create an unhealthy occlusion. Malocclusions place unnecessary strain on the TMJ and the tissues that support it. Sometimes the joint itself is damaged from facial injuries. Bruxism contributes to TMJ dysfunction by wearing down teeth and stressing the joint by clenching.

What are the most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction?

Patients with TMJ disorder can present a number of symptoms. One of the most common symptoms of this condition is orofacial pain such as tenderness along the sides of the lower part of the face. Headaches are common among patients with this condition, too. Sometimes, those with TMJ issues will experience popping sounds or sensations during oral function. In severe cases, a person might have difficulty opening and closing his or her mouth.

How is TMJ disorder treated?

TMJ disorder can be treated by rebuilding a person’s bite with restorations, aligning teeth with orthodontic appliances, and performing corrective surgery. Our oral surgeons provide surgical treatment for damaged TMJ joints and misaligned jawbones.

If you have questions about your treatment options, call our practice to reserve a consultation with our skilled and caring oral surgeons.