By Ilana Pine
Recently a patient came to us with the following issue:
“I notice my jaw clicking when I eat or yawn and often wake up with a headache. My doctor thinks these symptoms may be connected and has advised me to visit my dentist. Could you advise me what may be the cause of this?”
It is not unusual to clench or grind your teeth, most often in your sleep. This may be stress related but can also become a habit. You may not be aware that you do this, but certain signs and symptoms may lead a dentist to this conclusion.
The first of these are signs of excessive wear on the teeth, where teeth look ground down and often these worn facets match in the upper and lower arches. Also, symptoms could be clicks and creaking in the jaw joint and/ or limited mouth opening; headaches on waking, mainly in the temple region; neck pains; locking jaw; scalloping of the tongue; sensitive teeth; bone loss around the teeth and/ or gum shrinkage; cracked or broken teeth, often teeth with no active decay; poor or broken sleep, and pain in the teeth, often without evidence of dental decay or any other cause.
The technical term for tooth-grinding is bruxism and the official name for jaw joint clicking and pain is temporo-mandibular pain dysfunction syndrome. Treatment for this depends on the symptoms. Some people have worn down teeth but don’t suffer jaw joint problems. In this case a simple night bite splint would suffice to prevent further wear of the teeth.
Cases involving painful and clicky joints do benefit from a bite repositioning splint, which puts the jaws into a position where it is impossible to get the back teeth together. This provides welcome relief from painful muscles surrounding the joint, but is also only worn at night.
A new revolutionary treatment called Cerezen has the added benefit of being worn day and night so will help those who clench while concentrating too, for example during work or driving. Instead of the traditional bite splint worn on the teeth, Cerezen are small custom-made tubes that fit into the ears to stop the habit. The person is aware of the tubes in their ear canal when they clench or grind and this causes the muscles to relax and programs them not to tighten.
Every person is different, so would need to consult a dentist who will assess their situation before prescribing treatment.
Clicking in the joints indicates wear and tear within the joint and, while the above treatment options will provide relief, severely damaged jaw joints may require physiotherapy or even surgery. Treatment can provide enormous relief instantly.
Worn down teeth can be built up to look better using filling materials, crowns or veneers. This will also help to restore face height as loss of tooth surface can be ageing.
All of the above treatments are available at Love-Teeth. Why not contact us for an initial chat and advice.