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Clenching and Jaw Joint Disorders

teeth clenching

Clenching - Grinding - Bruxism

Clenching and grinding of teeth are on the rise today. Although the underlying cause is unknown, it is thought that the stress factor triggers teeth clenching to a large extent. In addition to the search for the cause for bruxism, treatments are mostly applied to reduce the symptoms.

The success rate in clenching and grinding treatments differs according to the stage of the disease, so early diagnosis is important. Due to neglected teeth clenching activities, individuals apply to the dentist in advanced stages. The biggest side effect of clenching problems is on the jaw joints. In the later stages of the disease, serious symptoms such as melting of the joint surfaces, decrease in joint fluid, muscle and cartilage tissue damage are observed. It is very difficult to replace the joint fluid that facilitates the movement of the jaw bones, in addition, the lost bone and cartilage tissue cannot be regenerated. In these cases, treatments include practices aimed at improving the quality of life of individuals. If left untreated, muscle and joint problems gradually worsen. For this reason, periodic dental examinations are important for the health of the muscles and joints in the surrounding tissues as well as the teeth.

The health of the jaw joint (Temporomandibular Joint) and muscle tissues seriously affects the quality of life. Healthy muscle and joint functions directly affect daily activities such as speaking, swallowing, grinding, yawning and chewing. Increased muscle activity with clenching problems can cause muscle stiffness called spasm, causing pain and posture disorders in various parts of the body. It has been shown that the muscle spasms seen as a result of bruxism even affect the posture of the person. Increased chewing muscle activity with clenching problems causes the jaw muscles to grow, just like a bodybuilding workout, and leads to asymmetrical deterioration in facial dimensions.

Symptoms of Jaw Joint Diseases

  • Clicking, rattling,
  • Jaw stuck, chin protruding
  • Chewing muscles, temples, ear and joint pain
  • Difficulty at grinding and swallowing
  • Restriction in mouth opening
  • Traces on the inside of the cheek and on the tongue due to clenching
  • Wear, cracks and breaks on the chewing surfaces of the teeth
  • Shortening of tooth dimensions as a result of wear
  • Deterioration of sleep quality, feeling of insomnia
  • Chronic fatigue, failure in work and/or school life
  • Tooth sensitivity, gum problems
  • Slipping of the chin, gliding of the chin

The initial stages of jaw joint disorders are usually painless. If the occasional clicks or snags are ignored, the destruction in the joint will continue to increase. Untreated, these minor symptoms lead to bigger problems in the future.

Clenching activities are usually seen in unconscious situations such as sleep or when the stress factor increases. In addition, physiological conditions such as missing teeth, crooked teeth, biting disorders and jaw curvatures can also be the cause of teeth clenching and grinding problems. It is observed that some health problems, psychological disorders and some medications that are used regularly increase the problems of teeth clenching. For this reason, detailed investigation of the medical history and various radiological imaging methods are necessary for the determination of the correct treatment technique in the treatment of jaw joint problems.

Factors That Increase Teeth Grinding and Clenching

  • Excessive smoking and alcohol consumption
  • Morphine-like drugs and drug addiction
  • Increased caffeine consumption (Tea, Coffee, etc.)
  • Chewing gum, sticky candy
  • Harmful habits such as pen biting, nail biting, excessive snack consumption

There are scientific studies showing that teeth clenching is associated with snoring and sleep apnea. Both of these disorders are sleep disorders that negatively affect the quality of life and must be treated.

tme splint

Treatment of Clenching and Grinding Disorders

There is no single treatment method as there is no fundamental cause of joint diseases due to clenching and grinding. Various treatments can be applied to relieve symptoms after examinations and diagnoses by experienced physicians. 

Night Plate - Splint Treatments

The spasm that occurs on the chewing muscles as a result of clenching activities should be relieved immediately. In the first place, the lactic acid accumulated in the area due to intense muscle activity should be removed. Night plaque or joint splints that will be placed between the teeth and will be produced individually, act as cushioning and provide partial relief in the joint. Thanks to the night plate (Splint), the contraction of the muscles during sleep is prevented and the blood flow in the joint area is indirectly increased. The increased blood flow ensures the removal of lactic acid accumulated in the masticatory muscles. In addition, the negative side effects of increased chewing muscle activities on the teeth are prevented. Splint treatment needs to be produced individually by a knowledgeable physician and checked at regular intervals. 

Massater Botox Treatment

Although Botox applications have found intensive use in the field of medical aesthetics, they are used for therapeutic purposes in many branches of traditional medicine treatments. The main muscles that move the jaw in chewing activity are the massater and temporal (temporal muscles). Excessive strength and increased volume in the chewing muscles can cause severe migraine-like headaches. Controlling the overstretched chewing muscles with botox applications can reduce the symptoms visibly. Limiting the increased activities of the masticatory muscles also helps to eliminate the asymmetric muscle growths on the face. Significant improvements in quality of life can be achieved with an accurate diagnosis and a personalized treatment plan.

Low-Level Laser Therapy (Low-Level Laser Therapy)

It is necessary to reduce the pressure increased in the joint fluid as a result of teeth clenching and grinding activities and to quickly remove the lactic acid accumulated in the surrounding muscle tissue. In the first place, it is aimed to control the increased muscle activities with splint treatment or botox applications. In addition to these applications, there are scientific studies showing that Low Dose Laser Therapy has significant positive effects in order to increase blood flow in the tissue. Laser therapy increases the regeneration rate of the cells in the area and supports healing. In addition, the positive effects of professional massage and exercises have been proven.

transparent plaque in children

Clenching and Grinding in Children

Teeth grinding disorders are no longer a problem that only concerns adults today. Studies have shown that in modern societies, teeth clenching is seen at a rate of 40%. Clenching problems in children are usually seen during tooth replacement periods. In other words, it is encountered in children between the ages of 6-12, when milk teeth fall out and permanent teeth begin to take their place. Most of the time, teeth grinding problems go away on their own after permanent dentition is completed. However, increased teeth grinding activities in this age range can cause various discomforts such as pain. In addition, squeaking noises frighten parents.

Teeth grinding activities often occur in children while they are asleep, and the exact cause is unknown. Most problems can be solved as a result of the examination and necessary tooth corrections by the orthodontist. Clenching and grinding of teeth in children should not be neglected in order not to cause greater discomfort in later ages. 

Methods to Reduce Teeth Grinding in Children

  • Regulating sleep time and avoiding sleeping late
  • Intense activity before sleep and reducing stress
  • Reducing the use of phones, tablets, computers and televisions
  • Application of muscle relaxant exercises and massages
  • Monitoring diet and water consumption

In order to reduce and/or prevent clenching problems in children, treatments such as jaw orthopedics and arrangement of teeth with transparent plaques can be applied by orthodontists. It is possible to get satisfactory results in a short period of 4-6 months, especially with transparent aligners that children love to use in recent years.

Frequently Asked Questions About Clenching and Joint Disorders

Causes of clenching can include stress, anxiety, lack of sleep, bad teeth and jaw muscle cramps.

Treatment methods may include relaxation exercises, splints, psychotherapy, medications, and dental correction treatments.

Clenching usually occurs during the night, but can also occur during the day in stressful situations.

It can cause damage to the teeth such as cracks, breaks, abrasions and tooth sensitivity.

Teeth clenching and grinding are often associated with jaw joint diseases. Tension in the jaw muscles can cause joint damage.

Stress is one of the main causes of clenching. In stressful situations, the jaw muscles tighten and excessive forces are placed on the teeth.

Yes, the clenching problem can also be seen in children. This may be due to the teething process, stress and development of the jaw muscles in the growth phase.

Jaw joint diseases may occur due to tension in the chewing muscles. Symptoms may include headache, jaw pain, earache, neck pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbances.

The first point to start is stress. Stress management techniques can be applied, relaxation exercises can be done, sleep environment can be arranged and appliances can be made to prevent damage when teeth are clenched.

The causes of jaw joint diseases can include clenching, grinding of teeth, jaw traumas, disorders in jaw joint anatomy, rheumatic diseases and repetitive chewing of extremely hard foods.

The method of treatment is determined according to the symptoms of the person. Joint treatment methods may include night plates, splints, mouthpiece use, drug therapy, therapy, surgical interventions, and physical therapy.

Joint disorders can lead to tension and contractions in the jaw muscles. This can also lead to teeth clenching behavior. In other words, clenching and grinding activity and joint diseases are events that trigger each other.

For pain relief, the cause of the pain must be eliminated. In addition, cold compresses, hot compresses, pain medications and relaxation techniques can be used to relieve pain.

Prolonged abnormal forces can cause damage to the teeth such as wear, cracks, fractures and sensitivity. 

Clenching is the act of applying force by clenching the teeth, while grinding is the act of making a sound by rubbing the teeth back and forth at the same time as the clenching of the teeth.

Teeth clenching and grinding can cause sleep disturbances, headaches, fatigue and negative psychological effects such as stress.

Yes, clenching and grinding can cause sleep disturbances and lead to chronic insomnia, restlessness and fatigue.

Yes, using a clenching mouthpiece can reduce the effect of clenching by relaxing the jaw muscles. It can also prevent tooth damage caused by clenching. Mouthpiece, night plate and TMJ splint are appliances made for the same purposes.

Yes, the use of medication in the treatment of teeth clenching is a common treatment method. In particular, muscle relaxants and antidepressants can be used to reduce the symptoms of clenching.

Yes, clenching treatment can also be applied to children. However, treatment methods may vary depending on children's age and response to treatment.

Clenching in children is often due to factors such as stress, anxiety, the teething process or sleep disturbances.

In order for the drugs used during treatment to be safe, it is necessary to determine the appropriate dosages for the child's age, symptoms and health status. Medication use should be guided by a specialist.

Children can be at any age to start receiving teeth grinding treatment. However, treatment methods can vary depending on the child's age and symptoms.

For the treatment of teeth grinding in children, pediatric dentist  It is recommended to consult an orthodontist or an orthodontist.