'Sup, Clenchers & Grinders!
Migraines, sore temples, dull aches, constant throbbing, sore facial muscles, or earaches? These are a few signs that you may have a clenching or grinding (or bruxism) habit. Imagine the tension in your jaws and temples caused by chewing gum non-stop for hours. It's similar to the feeling of someone who has this habit.
Firstly, let's get to know the difference between TMJ and TMD. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the actual joint that connects the jaw and skull; think of it as a door hinge. TMD is temporomandibular joint disorder caused by variables such as stress, muscular issues, trauma to the head, the neck, or the jaw. Usually, a doctor or person cannot identify what has caused it unless an apparent factor like an accident occurred.
TMD can be chronic or temporary. Whether grinding or clenching while sleeping, it can be at least three times stronger than when chewing food. Chronic TMD can lead to arthritis from joint abrasion and dental problems. Clenching or grinding can disturb sleep by waking the person or from sharp TMJ pain.
In 2008, I visited a TMD specialist. We narrowed the cause to a few theories; whiplash in 2000, causing slight injury to my neck, using braces in my late 20s, or stress. The bottom line is that I never treated the issue when it became noticeable until several years passed. I'll cover the reasons the specialist's theories apply to TMJ problems. She suggested yoga, a night guard, or Botox in the jaw. I also was prescribed muscle relaxers but never took them. The doctor warned me never to get surgery because it could damage the facial nerves.
Braces realign our teeth and our bites, whether we have an overbite or underbite. Therefore, our upper and lower jaw balance might be thrown off. This imbalance can irritate our TMJ. I remember relearning how to chew every month that I changed my clear braces mold, even biting the inside of my cheek a few times.
My friend, a dentist, told me that she never recommends braces for adults unless they have a severe issue. She explained that kids' bones are still growing, so the teeth and jaw will balance out. As adults, it could create jaw issues since our bones have set. As a result, my orthodontist had to file some of my teeth so they could fit better.
Although braces may not cause or cure TMD, they can leave our jaws uneven at some point. For adults, permanently or temporarily is up for debate.
Over the years, I realized that I grind my front teeth in the daytime. This could be the cause of headaches creeping up. So, observe your daytime habits, too. Also, I've broken THREE teeth due to clenching.
At-home treatments, ice pack, ice roller, jade roller, TMJ massages (massage 1, massage 2, massage 3), TMJ exercises (activity 1, activity 2, activity 3), and jaw stretching. A few days ago, I purchased Gentle Jaw to help stretch my jaw with approval from my dentist. WOW. I feel a lot of relief. Make sure to ask your orthodontist or dentist before using any TMJ device.
If you're looking into a night guard, test out a few. I had a $450 professionally made one, and it did not do any justice. Then, I bought a $30 front tooth night guard from CVS... it worked wonders. Beware of dental guards that slightly stretch the sides of your mouth! I used one for six months about 10 years ago, and it caused permanent stretching, leading to small fine lines. It took a lot of work to minimize them.
1. Don't bite your nails. 2. Don't rest your chin on your hands. 3. Don't chew gum. 4. Avoid hard, sticky foods like candy.
5. Don't slouch.
Always consult with your physician or medical professional before doing anything, especially if you have severe TMJ issues.
The way we sleep has a significant effect on our appearances. If we're frowning in our sleep, primarily due to grinding and clenching, those expressions can last through the day. By sleeping on our jaws and sides, lines can deepen or be created on our nasolabial folds, chins, and in between our eyebrows. The issue can also cause the jaw to get pumped up. Some people have enlarged jaw muscles because of it.
Stick to your daily skincare regimen. Maybe step it up while treating TMD. Make sure to use a potent and safe skin serum, such as Rescue Skin to help soften lines and minimize along your journey.
You can find relief. It'll take dedication, but do it for yourself!