TEMPOROMANDIBULAR JOINT (TMJ)
Gnathology is a branch of dentistry that studies the temporomandibular joint, occlusal and teeth relationship.
It is intended for everyone that grinds or clenches their teeth during the night or even during the day, feels pain in the joints in their jaw and discomfort and rattling during the movement of the lower jaw.
Considering the temporomandibular joint anatomy, the movements of the lower jaw can be divided into functional and parafunctional.
Functional movements occur during chewing, swallowing, speaking and breathing.
Parafunctional movements are the ones that occur during grinding and clenching of the teeth.
Bruxism and bruxomania
The term bruxism might not sound familiar but a lot of people will realise that it is a difficulty they encounter themselves.
Everyday stress is considered to be the main cause of bruxism.
On the other hand, bruxomania is a condition that consists of clenching your teeth during the day and it is considered less harmful.
The damages caused by bruxism and bruxomania can be numerous and serious:
- • Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder – inflammation, pain, rattling
- • Dental attrition – accelerated wear of the tooth substance
- • Tooth fracture
- • Paradontosis – bone resorption, gingival recession, pockets, teeth loosening and finally, tooth loss
- • Pulpitis – inflammation of the dental pulp (dental cavities)
- • Pulp necrosis – withering of the pulp
- • Headaches and neck pain
- • Ear pain
- • Lack of concentration
- • Fatigue of chewing muscles
- • Numbness of parts of the face
- • Morning stiffness and jaw fatigue
What causes bruxism and bruxomania?
The main causes are stress, anxiety, smoking, alcohol, amphetamines, and disorders of the nervous system (CNS).
Because of the loss of tooth substance the teeth are shortened and a loss of the height of the bite occurs. That reflects on the chewing muscles as well as on the temporomandibular joint dysfunction and leads to serious headaches and problems with the neck and the spine.
Prevention, therapy and protection
For patients with bruxism that are diagnosed with a major loss of tooth substance (shortened teeth) and a consequential loss of the height of the bite it is necessary to replace the lost tooth tissue and manufacture a relaxation splint.
The stabilisation split worn during the night results in a cessation of grinding and clenching in most cases by lifting the height of the bite and influencing the CNS via the reflex arc.
The splits also protect the teeth from excessive wear and they prevent the prosthetics from fracturing.
Do not neglect the fact that teeth are a common cause of headaches, tingling in parts of the face, neck stiffness and loss of energy.
Pain in the temporomandibular joint is often a first symptom of the problem.