Many patients say their spouse never hears them. The problem is that adults don't make noise grinding like children do. If you grind right now, chances are you will not make noise. Bruxing is the name dentists give to this abnormal activity of grinding.
Over time bruxing leads to muscle pain and jaw joint problems.
This is known as TMJ syndrome. A common symptom for women resulting
from muscle fatigue and TMJ breakdown include headaches often
of migraine severity behind the eyes and/or in the area
of the temples. Men experience less headache and more neck stiffness
or soreness. Neck stiffness almost always accompanies TMJ syndrome.
clicking or popping noise in front of the ear is the jaw
(temporomandibular) joint breaking down. The noise is the
cartilage in the joint that becomes permanently deformed
from prolonged overuse. There may also be soreness in the
muscles of the face and jaw in this area due to overworking
them. Ear congestion or ringing is another common sign.
is a most destructive habit. The joints, muscles, and teeth
are in conflict. The teeth become worn and can be cracked
or will shift from the forces of bruxing. The enamel can
flake off at the gum line causing notching on the teeth
receiving the most excessive forces. Neuromuscular dentistry
is treatment focused on creating harmony between the joints,
the muscles and the teeth.
Excessive wear can even deform the smile or shorten the teeth to
the point the person looks like the have a denture.
A cardiologist checks for heart disease with an EKG. It is a computer
that measures electrical activity in the body. We use a similar
computer, an EMG or Electromyograph, to measure muscle activity
in the head and neck as we are tracking your jaw position. With
this study we can determine the optimal jaw position for you and
make a special mouthpiece at that relaxed jaw position.
This is a major breakthrough in TMJ and migraine headache therapy because we can make these precise measurements. In the past dentists
realized the bite was the problem but didn't know where the bite
should be. Many mouthpieces were made using an arbitrary bite because
we had to guess at relaxed muscle position. Sometimes they worked,
but often they would not relieve the pain.
A mouthpiece made with the aid of the computer to the relaxed muscle
positions is called a neuromuscular orthotic. When the pain goes
away with this mouthpiece, you know with certainty that your bite
was causing the problem. The orthotic stops the pain, and returns
the mouth to a stable, comfortable position.
After use of the orthotic and relief from the symptoms, a bite
correction is usually needed to permanently restore the teeth and
joints to optimum health. This may be done with contouring of the
enamel, with orthodontics or with crowns and veneers depending
on the situation.
For more on Headaches,
Migraines & TMJ Symptoms, click on this link.
Dr. Birnbach demonstrates treating TMD - He is placing the pads for the ultra low frequency TENS ( trans cutaneous electrical nerve stimulation) which relaxes the jaw muscles to find the optimal "bite".