TMJ Treatment / Teeth Grinding
A lot of patients that grind or clench, they're not even aware that they do it, they're just aware of the fact that they sometimes have a headache, they break teeth. A lot of times, being able to educate a patient, what is tooth grinding, or how are they grinding their teeth, and actually showing them by sliding their jaw with a mirror how those teeth are fitting perfectly together in a position that they would never think that they would go to, because they're doing it at night, usually, for the most part.
A lot of times, the grinding, if you catch it early enough, you can treat it very conservatively by having them wear something as simple as a retainer, just think enough to where they just can't come into contact with their upper and lower teeth, to something like wearing more of a night guard, which is a thicker appliance which is made custom for the individual. You take the impressions, and you actually spend, that second appointment when they come in, you spend a fair amount of time balancing it out. What you're doing is eliminating interference, so when they slide, because they're going to slide side to side, they're not banging or bouncing over something, they're just sliding very smoothly. In doing that, you're not only protecting the teeth, but you're also allowing the muscle that operates our jaw to relax.
By slightly opening them with a mouth guard, you're essentially putting it in traction. Years ago, you know, they don't nearly do that as much and other things, but years ago they used to put weights on people on their leg to kind of relieve pressure on the back, because by just applying a slow, constant weight, forces the muscle to relax because it can't tense up anymore. It's kind of what you're doing with the mouth guard. By slightly keeping them open and preventing them from clenching, that muscle has no option other than to relax.
With the night guards, you can not only protect the patient's tooth, you can get them to a point to where they don't have any more pain. I think the most extreme case that I remember is that I had a patient of mine, had been a patient for a while, and he came in, and he was telling me about he's being worked out for a brain tumor. I go wow, he hadn't gone in for a scan, but he had this chronic headache and dah dah dah. I said, “Well, can I just check a few things?” There's certain areas you can check in a patient's mouth to kind of find out what's going on.
I kind of went in, and sure enough, I mean I went and checked a couple spots, and he immediately jumped. I said, “You know what?” I said, “You need to proceed with that, getting checked out for a brain tumor, but could we make you a mouth guard?” He said, “Absolutely,” so I put a rush in with my lab. Usually it takes about a week to get it made. We got it back to him in two days. Within about a week, he was a-symptomatic, and to this day, he tells everybody that story. He still had his scan, luckily, he didn't have a brain tumor, but it was strictly really acute pain being caused by the TMJ.
The TMJ is your temporomandibular joint, so when someone says, “I have TMJ,” it's like yes, you have two of them, one on each side of your face. If you have TMJ pain or a disorder, that's describing that there's something wrong with your TMJ. In extreme cases, also, so you kind of go through, you know, you treat somebody conservatively, whether it be a retainer, whether it be some type of guard, and a lot of times that works. Then, we have some patients that they also, we're able to benefit them by using botox.
Botox, as you know, is most widely known for eliminating wrinkles, but the way it eliminates wrinkles is it paralyzes the muscles that are pulling the skin in a certain direction which causes those wrinkles. Well, how it works when you're treating migraines is that, it turns out that 80% of migraines are muscle-related, 10% are vascular, and 10% are hormonal. Those 80% of migraines that are muscular can be treated a lot of times in conjunction with a mouth guard and botox. What you're doing is, muscles like on the side of the face and other muscles along the side of the head, or even up in here, by relaxing those muscles, and by temporary, you know, botox wears off after about three months, but by relaxing the muscles, you'll get a patient pain-free. Then you know you've addressed the issue.
The nice thing about botox is as you treat them, they don't necessarily need it every three months, because as you break the cycle of that muscle contracting, after a while, it kind of stops doing it. Maybe of those patients now go six months, nine months before they need to be having any other type of treatment. Or, they just wear the guard now. Initially they had the botox, got them out of pain, and now they wear the guard and they're fine. One of the things that people don't realize, I think a lot of people don't realize is that, last time I checked, the FDA, which is the Food and Drug Administration, the only medication that's approved for the treatment of migraines is botox.
All of the other medications that are given to people, pills, which have horrible side effects, and a lot of times make people feel miserable, are being used off label, meaning that they really weren't intended to treat migraines, but they found that it helps patients. We've many times been able to get people so they're not taking medication now, pills that actually have made them feel sick and actually have some other adverse effects, we're able to get them off those, and now they wear a guard or a splint at night and have the botox. The botox has no side effects. That's the wonderful thing about it. That's been a really nice thing that we've added to the practice within about the last five years.
Teeth grinding can wear down your enamel, lead to jaw soreness, and even cause migraines. If you grind your teeth or are experiencing TMJ pain, call Volterra Dental for teeth grinding and TMJ treatment Los Alamitos, CA area appointment at 562-735-2363 for relief.
Why Do I Grind My Teeth Without Knowing It?
Bruxism is the medical name for unconscious teeth grinding and clenching. While researchers are still not clear on what causes bruxism, it seems to be related to periods of high stress or anxiety.
All of that teeth grinding can wear down the enamel, increasing your risk of tooth sensitivity and decay.
What Is TMJ?
You have two joints on either side of your head, the temporomandibular joints (TMJ), that control the movement of your lower jaw. With enough stress or damage to the joint, your TMJ can experience chronic pain, discomfort, and problems functioning correctly. This is known as temporomandibular disorder, or TMD. TMD can lead to jaw pain, neck and shoulder pain, and even migraines.
TMD is related to bruxism, although it’s not clear which causes the other.
How Can A TMJ Mouthguard Help?
To treat bruxism, we provide a custom bite guard that you wear overnight, so if you grind your teeth, you won’t damage the enamel. We can also create an oral device to treat your TMD. It shifts your jaw slightly so it’s under less stress, helping resolve the symptoms of TMD.
Can My Migraines Be Related To Bruxism And TMJ Pain?
Both bruxism and TMD put undue stress on your jaw joint and muscles. Because your muscles are interconnected, either condition can create pain in your jaw and neck, and it can also lead to chronic headaches and migraines.
The oral device you wear at night can definitely help, but we can also use Botox® to relieve migraines.