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Things That Go Bump In The Night by alendar


Things That Go Bump In The Night

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									          Things That Go Bump In The Night

Grinding and clenching your teeth at night is more common than you think. If it doesn’t go
away, treatment can offer relief.

It can cause tooth and jaw pain, make eating difficult and even damage teeth. But
temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder – a problem involving the joint where your lower jaw
hinges off the base of the skull – is still not widely understood, says HCF’s Director of Dental
Services Dr Ian Jacobi.

What is known is that more women than men are likely to suffer from it, possibly because of
their different physical reaction to stress. It can affect anyone, although it is usually a problem
for people aged between 30 and 60-years-old.

Dentists theorise that there are several aggravating factors behind TMJ disorder.
Dental work, for example, the replacement of several fillings at once, may cause the problem.
Whiplash, keeping objects such as pencils constantly in the mouth, continual gum chewing, an
uneven bite perhaps because of missing teeth, stomach sleeping and resting the telephone
between your ear and shoulder can also kick the syndrome off. Both of the latter interfere with
the neck and jaw muscles and can lead to pain and misalignment.

However, they emphasise that not everyone who is stressed, or who sleeps on their stomach,
for example, will suffer from TMJ disorder.

Often jaw or tooth pain may simply go away without treatment, only to reappear at a later
stage. However, those whose symptoms do worsen may eventually find that the jaw becomes
misaligned, causing muscles to shorten and bulk to accommodate a new chewing position,
resulting in further discomfort.

From here, it is best to consult a dentist who is familiar with the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
(See box) Just as there are no established guidelines for diagnosing these disorders, there is
no single, best treatment.

Most experts agree, however, that conservative, non-surgical therapy is best. Surgery, and
other invasive treatments, such as injections are, at best, a last resort. In fact, most dentists
warn against surgery such as open joint surgery, except in extreme cases when the bony
structures that make up your jaw joint are degenerating.

Your dentist may tell you to
       Avoid foods that require you to open your mouth very widely to fit them in. This will
       give your jaw and chewing muscles a chance to rest and heal. You may also be asked
       to avoid hard, crunchy, or chewy foods
       Cut your food into smaller pieces so they are easier to chew
       Apply ice packs, then heat, to your jaw. This will help loosen muscles that could be
       going into spasm
       Keeping yawning to a minimum to avoid opening your mouth too wide
       Try to remember to keep your teeth apart, not clenched together, and to relax your jaw
       Sleep on your back, not your stomach
       Never rest the telephone between your shoulder and ear
       Consult your doctor about anti-anxiety medication, or antidepressants, if emotional
       problems are at the root of the problem
One of the most effective treatments is a protective plastic splint (occlusal splint) worn at
night. This will have to be made up for you by your dentist.

The splint is designed to prevent your upper and lower teeth coming together. Hopefully
wearing it will give your jaw muscles a chance to be reprogrammed, says Dr Jacobi.
You may find that the muscles in your jaw slowly relax as you wear the splint and both the
splint, and your bite, will have to be adjusted.

While your dentist is treating you, he or she may also suggest complementary treatments.

These may include:

       A relaxation class, or relaxation exercises that you can perform daily
       Ultrasound treatment at the point of soreness
       Trigger point injections to relieve pain. With the right treatment, as well as a
       combination of self-help, TMJ disorder is a condition that can be corrected.

Symptoms of TMJ disorder
Popping or crackling in your ear when you chew

       Pain in teeth that is not related to cavities or gums
       Difficulty in chewing
       Difficulty in opening the mouth widely
       Headaches and/or neckache

For more advice call 13 13 34 for your nearest HCF Dental Centre

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