Eating has become a real problem.
Anytime you eat food that requires a little effort to chew, you end your meal with a sore jaw. Sometimes, it even hurts to open or close your mouth. You don’t want to tell anyone, but sometimes your jaw almost feels like it’s stuck, too.
If this seems familiar, then it might be time to visit the office of Denise DiBona, DDS. Our dentist office in Red Bank, NJ, can help diagnose and treat TMJ disorders, especially if they are the result of grinding or clenching your teeth together.
How Teeth Grinding Could Be Hurting You
Wait a minute, you might be thinking, “I don’t grind my teeth together.”
Maybe you don’t do it, or maybe you aren’t aware that you are doing it. Millions of Americans grind and clench their teeth in their sleep. Stress can make this problem even worse.
Teeth grinding is bad for a variety of reasons. First, grinding your teeth together can wear down the enamel. This can leave your teeth vulnerable to tooth decay. It also can expose dentin, a softer layer beneath your enamel, and this can increase tooth sensitivity.
Second, the added strain created by your clenching or grinding could cause teeth to crack (which can be painful in its own way). This also puts pressure on your jaw and the surrounding muscle tissue.
How much pressure? Consider this: A healthy human bites with a force between 200 and 250 pounds on average. By comparison, researchers have found that people can generate 500 pounds of force or more when they grind their teeth in their sleep.
Ironically, TMJ also can make it harder to generate even average bite force when you are awake. (This could be because you are dealing with the pain of your overnight grinding sessions.)
Jaw Pain May Just Be The Start
All the added pressure from teeth grinding isn’t just hurting your jaw and the muscles around it.
People with TMJ disorders frequently experience other problems as well, although they may not realize their problems are related to their jaws.
Facial pains, as well as neck and upper back pains, can interfere with your daily activities as well. People with TMJ problems also can suffer from frequent headaches and earaches, especially when they wake up in the morning.
But just because you are experiencing a jaw problem, that doesn’t necessarily mean you have a TMJ disorder. Many people will have temporary TMJ problems, and you can take some steps on your own to relieve the symptoms.
Eating softer foods for a few days may alleviate the pain you may feel during or after eating. A cold pack can numb the pain and ease swelling. Moist heat can improve mobility in your jaw.
And pain relievers can ease the pain of headaches and earaches.
If you are taking these steps, but these symptoms continue to return, that’s when you should contact Dr. DiBona.
How We Can Help
If you keep having TMJ symptoms in spite of your efforts, we can help.
During your visit, we will be looking for symptoms of teeth grinding, such as wear-and-tear on your teeth. A misaligned bite is a factor that can contribute to this problem.
If we have reason to believe that you are clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep, we can discuss creating an oral appliance for you.
This is a kind of mouthguard that is designed to be worn while you sleep. The mouthguard prevents you from grinding by creating a barrier between your top and bottom rows of teeth.
It also can help change the resting position of your jaw to alleviate some of the pressure created by your clenching and grinding.
For patients who experience frequent headaches as a symptom of a TMJ disorder, we also can provide Botox. This can ease jaw pain along with reducing your headaches, earaches, or both.
Get Help To Feel Better Sooner
We hate it when our patients are in pain. We want to do everything that we can to keep you pain-free whether you are in our chair or elsewhere.
The sooner you seek help, the sooner we can help you feel better.