Medical questions & health advice by board certified doctors
"Can grinding your teeth cause TMJ?"
I grind my teeth at night. Could this end up screwing up my jaw or give me TMJ? My jaw feels fine, I'm just nervous about what grinding my teeth could end up doing to me.
Bruxism is the medical term for clenching the jaw, and grinding of your teeth. It may be diurnal (during the day) or nocturnal (occurs during the evening). The majority of health problems that develop as a result of bruxism occur at night. This is a habitual behavior, rather then a reflex. It is also considered a sleep disorder. Bruxism can result in occlusal trauma, abnormal wear patterns on the chewing surfaces of the teeth, and even fractures of the teeth. Bruxism is a relatively common phenomenon, however developing significant problems that end up requiring medical intervention is relatively rare, on the order of 5%. One of the potential problems that people can notice from bruxism if left untreated for long enough is jaw pain and headaches. Some people even notice that clenching during sleep can result in waking with headaches (typically tension headaches), but it can also be a trigger for migraine headaches. If you go purely by percentages, the risk of developing TMJ, or joint problems from bruxism is low. However it wouldn't be surprising that if you already had a pre-disposition to developing TMJ, bruxism may expedite the process. I would recommend making an appointment to be evaluated by a dentist, or TMJ specialist to get evaluated. I hope that this information is helpful, and I wish you all the best.
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