Author: Dr. Mayoor Patel, DDS, MS
If you’ve ever woken up with a sore jaw or constant headaches, you know just how uncomfortable it can be. These problems, as well as tense muscles, are often the result of bruxism, or teeth grinding. Therefore, it is important for patients to understand if they are at risk for temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) or bruxism.
While patients are more likely to develop TMD if they have one or a few of the associated risks, it does not necessarily mean those who do not have any risk factors present won’t develop TMD. Here are some risk factors of TMD and how to manage stress.
Injury: If you experience trauma or injury to the jaw area, it can translate to long-term issues. TMD may develop if an injury causes dislocation of the jaw joint or movement of the disc and if muscles of opening and closing the jaw are weakened or strained, among other complicating jaw conditions.
Age: Another risk factor is your age. If you are between the ages of 30 and 50 years, you are at an increased risk of developing TMD. While this doesn’t always mean a person will develop TMD if they are between these ages, but they are more likely to.
Medical Conditions: There are various medical conditions that can also increase your risk of TMD. These include misaligned teeth or bite, jaw or facial deformities, arthritic conditions and history of jaw or facial injuries. If a patient suffers from these medical conditions, it is important for them to visit their dentist for further assessment.
Gender: Both men and women can suffer from TMD. However, women account for 90 percent of those that seek treatment. Research continues to be completed to determine a possible connection between hormones and TMD, indicated sometimes that men and women process pain signals differently. However, there is no evidence to prove this claim quite yet.
Stress: Let’s face it; stress is never good. However, if you are under a lot of stress in your life, you may have an increased risk of TMD. Some of the stress-related habits that may increase your patient’s risk of TMD include habitually clenching and unclenching their jaw, grinding their teeth during the day and/or night during sleep, and constantly chewing things, such as gum or ice. By teaching patients how to combat stress, it can further prevent the development of TMD.
There are certain personality types that can trigger bruxism, such as those with nervous tension and those who have a hard time managing stress. Anger, pain, and frustration can also cause people to start showing the beginning signs of bruxism without them even knowing it. Those who are aggressive, competitive and in a rush, may also be at a greater risk.
While there is no cure, it can be managed through proper treatment and by combating stress. If signs of bruxism are detected, therapy might be recommended. This therapy will help to change your behavior by learning how to rest your tongue, teeth and lips properly. An oral appliance can also be made and worn to help absorb the force of biting and to prevent further damage to your teeth while sleeping
We host CE courses on Medical Billing for Dentists and clinical treatment of TMD disorders and Dental Sleep Medicine. For more information, contact Nierman Practice Management at 1-800-879-6468 or by visiting niermanpm.com.