Teeth Grinding and TMJ Disorders

Do you ever wake up from a night’s sleep with sore teeth and jaws? You could be grinding your teeth. Grinding your teeth is known as bruxism. This rhythmic clenching of the jaws and grinding of the teeth may develop at any age. Teeth grinding is usually done unconsciously in your sleep, but it can also occur when you are awake. During the day, a person who is concentrating on a task will often place his teeth together and apply force through a contraction of the jaw muscles. This is commonly associated with the daytime tasks of lifting heavy objects, driving, reading and writing. During sleep, it presents as clenching and rhythmic contractions.

Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are problems that affect your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), or jaw joint. They also can affect the muscles of the face that help you to chew.

If you place your fingers just in front of your ears and open your mouth, the movement you feel is your TMJ. It is a small ball-and-socket joint with three parts:

  • The ball, called the condyle
  • The socket, called the glenoid fossa
  • A small, fibrous disk that sits between the condyle and the glenoid fossa

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