The damage that you cause when you grind your teeth can be devastating. Sadly, most people do not even know that they are grinding their teeth. Unless a partner happens to be awake and hear what is going on, grinders never really notice until they are in pain or they see that their teeth have become shorter or they are chipped. The force that is applied when you grind your teeth is normally quite high. At times the load is such that you wake up from pain in the teeth and/or chewing muscles. This tremendous pressure applied to the teeth is also applied to the supporting bone around the teeth and the temporo-mandibular joints (TMJ). Therefore, you can have a feeling that not just one tooth hurts, but many.
Cranio-mandibular dysfunction is a term which describes a group of symptoms which result when the teeth, chewing muscles or jaw-joints (TMJ) do not work together correctly.
Some of the possible symptoms from cranio-mandibular dysfunction:
- Clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Headaches especially when waking up in the morning
- Pain behind the eyes
- Ear ache
- Neck pain
- Clicking of the jaw-joints
- Pain in or around the jaw-joints
- Sensitivity in teeth and sore teeth when chewing
In many cases it is stress combined with poor contacts between the upper & the lower teeth which cause people to grind their teeth; however, there are other considerations, such as:
Health – Do you have arthritis, or did you sustain an injury to the jaw?
Psychological – Are you fearful, angry, tense or anxious?
Physical – Are your upper and lower teeth aligned?
Sometimes pains and aches associated with TMJ problems can be reduced with isometric exercises.
The consequences though need to be treated by adjusting the occlusion, the contacts between the upper and lower teeth. To prevent problems in the future, and to reduce further wear of your teeth, you may need a night guard to avoid direct contact between the upper and lower teeth. A very important effect of the night guard is that it relaxes the chewing muscles thereby, giving you relief from your symptoms.