Grinding & TMJD Aren’t Related
Jaw pain is often a symptom of teeth grinding and of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders, but making a direct connection between grinding and TMJ problems is sketchy at best.
According to the Mayo Clinic, the precise cause of an individual’s TMJ disorder is difficult to determine, even for doctors. The TMJ connects your jawbone to your skull and works like a sliding hinge. One is located on each side of your skull. TMJ disorders can cause jaw pain in the joint and the muscles that control jaw movement, but that pain can be caused by many factors, including genetics or arthritis. Other possible causes of TMJ-related symptoms include fractures, dislocations, and structural problems present since birth.
Stress is thought to be a factor in causing both TMJ and teeth grinding problems, so perhaps that’s why the two often are linked. While some people who experience jaw pain may clench or grind their teeth, that doesn’t necessarily mean the grinding is the cause of – or even related to – the pain. According to the Mayo Clinic, many people with TMJ disorders do not grind their teeth, while many who have been grinding their teeth regularly for years never develop TMJ problems.
Grinding your teeth while you sleep, termed bruxism, is considered a sleep-related movement disorder. In fact, the medical community has found that people who clench or grind their teeth during sleep are more likely to have other sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea. But, again, no direct cause-and-effect relationship between bruxism and TMJ disorders has been found.
In fact, a 2013 study found the opposite: A definitive study conducted by researchers at New York University (NYU) College of Dentistry, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York and the University of Montreal concluded that bruxism does not cause TMJ disorders and there is no relationship between the two.
Lead NYU investigator Karen Raphael, stated: “When your dentist tells you that your facial pain is somehow ‘your fault’ because you are grinding your teeth, you now know that it is simply not true. Many people grind their teeth a little bit at night, but that activity cannot account for your pain. If anything, people who suffer from the most severe TMD [TMJ disorders] pain are actually the least likely to grind their teeth at night.”
While you can’t prevent jaw pain or protect yourself from TMJ problems, you can prevent damage to your teeth from nighttime grinding. Visit www.SleepRight.com for more information.