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Can Stress Cause Teeth Grinding?

You may already know that teeth grinding, both during the day and at night, is commonly associated with stress. But did you know that there are some other major dental issues that can be caused by stress? In this blog from Harrisburg Smiles, we’ll be taking a look at the basics of TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder), and how it can be caused by teeth grinding and stress. Let’s get started.

Unchecked Teeth Grinding Can Lead To TMJ

Teeth grinding can cause quite a few oral health issues, including premature wear & tear and toothaches. But one of the most serious problems related to unchecked teeth grinding is a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ, for short.

TMJ occurs when the temporomandibular joint, which is a small joint that connects the jaw to the skull, becomes strained, inflamed, infected, or otherwise damaged. There are a variety of issues that can cause TMJ, but teeth grinding is definitely one of the most common. 

When you grind your teeth, your teeth contact each other in a way that they’re not intended to. Typically, your teeth are intended to only contact each other when you’re chewing and biting while you eat food.

Because of this, prolonged tooth-to-tooth contact from grinding can put excessive strain on the muscles and joints of your jaw, including your temporomandibular joint. Over time, this can lead to TMJ. This is particularly common if you have an unhealthy bite.

Recognizing TMJ And When You Need To Get Treatment

The most common sign of TMJ is aching facial and jaw pain, which typically radiates from underneath both of your ears. You may also experience headaches, jaw soreness, difficulty chewing or pain when chewing, or even “popping” and “cracking” noises when moving your jaw. 

In extreme cases, your temporomandibular joint may lock up, making it hard or impossible for you to open your mouth all the way, or to close your mouth completely. If you notice one or more of the above symptoms, you need to get help from Dr. Sanath Kommineni or Dr. Naveen Cherukuri. 

Treatment Options For TMJ

TMJ can sometimes be resolved with lifestyle changes, such as reducing stress and mitigating teeth grinding. It may be possible to use a night guard to prevent direct tooth-to-tooth contact when grinding.

An oral appliance may also be used for TMJ treatment. Oral appliances look similar to a night guard, but are intended to shift the position of the jaw and temporomandibular joint when you sleep, keeping them in a healthy position and allowing for healing and recovery.

In some cases, orthodontic treatment may be needed to correct the bite and the position of the teeth, and eliminate TMJ. Surgical intervention is sometimes necessary for resolving TMJ, but this is typically only required in the most severe cases.

Get The Help You Need From Harrisburg Smiles Today!

If you’re grinding your teeth or you think that you may have TMJ, the team at Harrisburg Smiles is here to help. Dr. Cherukuri and Dr. Kommineni have years of experience treating teeth grinding and TMJ, and can provide you with the care you need for a healthy, pain-free mouth. Contact us online to schedule an appointment, or give us a call at (980) 258-0866 to get started.

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