If you watch sports, you’ve seen plenty of athletes wearing mouthguards.
Boxers, football players, and basketball players all use mouthguards to protect their teeth in the midst of the contact of their sports.
You may not know that mouthguards can help you, too, even if you aren’t taking punches to the head, getting tackled by 300-pound linemen, or taking an elbow to the jaw while battling for a rebound.
Mouthguards are great ways to treat problems like grinding your teeth and TMJ disorders. Our team at Antoine Dental Center in Houston can get your fitted for a mouthguard if you need help with these issues.
Bruxism and TMJ disorders
Bruxism is a technical term that refers to clenching or grinding your teeth together.
For some patients this is a problem of its own, and for others, it’s a factor in their TMJ disorder.
People with bruxism are often unaware of what they are doing. They may be clenching their teeth as a response to stress at work or in their personal lives. Frequently, this is an involuntary reaction to those situations.
Other people grind their teeth against one another while they are sleeping. This is not something you can stop by just thinking about, but it is something you can prevent with a mouthguard.
As we mentioned above, bruxism can lead to TMJ problems. TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint.
This is a ball-and-socket joint in your mouth. This joint allows your jaw to open and close and to move from side to side. This is important both in eating and speaking.
If you are experiencing bruxism or a TMJ disorder (also known as TMD), then you may be experiencing a variety of symptoms.
Pain in your jaw may be the most obvious and the most common symptom. You may feel this pain while you are eating or shortly thereafter. This also may be a persistent pain that never seems to go away.
Either way, it’s aggravating, and it makes everyday life less bearable.
When you clench and grind your teeth, you put added pressure on your joint. This can damage the temporomandibular joint itself, or it may cause pain in the muscles around your joint.
In some cases, this pain can spread to your face, neck, and shoulders.
Muscular pain is only one of the ways bruxism and TMJ can leave you hurting. Earaches, ringing in the ears, and headaches (including migraines) can be symptoms of a TMD, too.
TMJ disorders can affect your jaw mobility. Pay attention if your jaw becomes stuck in a particular position or if you have limited range of motion when you try to open or close your jaw. This may be embarrassing or uncomfortable, and it may affect your ability to express yourself to others.
A final symptom to be aware of is clicking or popping of your jaw. This could happen when you are eating, speaking, or opening your jaw for other reasons (such as yawning). This clicking or popping may not hurt, but it could suggest an issue with your jaw alignment.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to talk to a member of our staff in our Houston office.
The good news is that bruxism and TMJ disorders usually do not require invasive, surgical treatments.
If you come to our office, our dentist will discuss your symptoms. Do you feel pain when you eat? If so, is it all the time or just when you are eating certain foods?
Can you move your jaw in all directions? Do you have full range of motion with your jaw?
Our doctors will examine you to look for alignment problems or possible damage to the cartilage around your jaw. We may suggest changes you can make (such as eating softer foods or chewing gum less often) that may correct the situation. If that doesn’t help, we can take the next step.
That step is creating a custom-fitted mouthguard for you. These mouthguards are worn at night while you sleep, and they serve two purposes.
First, they change the position of your jaw. This can alleviate some of the stress that may be causing your TMJ disorder. Second, they prevent you from grinding your teeth together at night.
Before you know it, you will wake up without the pain in your jaw, your face, your neck, or your shoulders. Your headaches and earaches will stop, too.
And in general, it will be easier to get through your daily activities.
Act now for a pain-free tomorrow
You don’t have to keep living with the pain of TMJ or bruxism. If you think you may have either condition, please make an appointment to see us today. Diagnosing your problem is the first step to fixing it.
You can make an appointment at Antoine Dental Center by calling 713-364-8990 or by filling out our online form.