Bruxism (grinding your teeth) is a common, often subconscious act performed by many people during increased times of stress that leads to pain in the jaw, face and neck.
The tissue surrounding the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ or jaw) can be damaged or irritated as a result of overuse, creating micro trauma.
If this condition is not identified and treated early, it can lead to a more serious condition known as TMJ Disorder. This involves internal derangement (displaced jaw/disc or damage to the condyle; part of the jaw that articulates with the skull) and prolonged TMJ disorder can also lead to arthritis.
How can you tell if you have issues related to teeth grinding?
You may identify with some of the following symptoms:
- Radiating pain in the jaw, face and neck
- Jaw muscle stiffness, or inability to fully open to jaw
- Popping or clicking while moving the jaw
- Dull, aching pain deep into the joint and poorly localized to the ear, jaw and temple areas
What should you do?
The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research suggest the following self-help techniques:
- Eating soft foods
- Applying hot and cold packs to the jaw
- Avoiding extreme or over exaggerated jaw movements – such as chewing gum, wide yawning and yelling
- Self-massage techniques to the muscles of the face and jaw
- Relaxation techniques to manage stress and anxiety