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3D rendered xray of a skull with the TMJ highlightedWhen asked what the temporo­mandibular joint is, most people would not have any idea what to say. Now, what if they were asked what the TMJ was? They likely would know it is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull. That is because most people are more familiar with the acronym, rather than the medical term for the important oral cavity joint. When the joint is swollen or inflamed, patients are said to be suffering from TMD or temporo­mandibular disorder. While those two acronyms are used interchangeably, they mean two different things entirely.

Those patients with acute pain and discomfort along their jaw, or who have earaches, or notice clicking sounds as they eat, could be suffering from TMD. Any patient dealing with these symptoms should come into our office, at Barnes Dental where we can fully evaluate the situation.

Does Bruxism Impact the TMJ?

One of the biggest causes of TMD is bruxism. Bruxism is the medical term for the clenching of the jaw or grinding of teeth. Most people tend to suffer from bruxism during their sleeping hours. However, there are some who have to deal with it while awake. If the condition is not treated, it can cause the jaw to be misaligned and improperly wear down teeth. While bruxism does worsen over time, initially, the first symptoms often go unrealized for years.

What Causes Bruxism?

While most people are unaware, there are actually two types of bruxism. The first is known as awake bruxism and is typically brought on by anxiety and stress. It is the least common type. It causes patients to grind their teeth and clench their jaw. Stress can be caused by emotional states such as anger, tension, and frustration which typically contribute to the most severe cases.

Sleep bruxism is more common and is not caused by emotions. The root cause is genetics. Patients with a family history of bruxism have a greater chance of developing it than those who do not. Also, epilepsy, dementia, and Parkinson’s disease can all lead to a higher risk of developing it.

Can Bruxism Be Prevented?

While bruxism can cause a great deal of damage to the teeth and oral cavity, there are treatments for both types. Stress reduction techniques can help lower a patient’s anxiety and stress, diminishing their bruxism. Mouthguards are another type of treatment. Patients wear the mouthguard as they sleep. It keeps their teeth apart and does not allow them to touch. This way, they cannot grind their teeth. This will alleviate the pain along the jaw and in the teeth. Another appliance is called a split bite. This is also used to keep the patient’s teeth from touching.

Patients who experience an ache in their jaw or pain in the TMJ site should seek treatment immediately. They may have developed bruxism and not realized it. They should come in for a proper evaluation at Barnes Dental. Our staff is also available by phone. Our office phone number is (971) 441-5520. Patients should call to get an appointment scheduled or for a phone consultation today.

Contact Us

Barnes Dental
7325 SW Barnes Rd.,
Portland, OR 97225-6119
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Office Hours

Every Other Friday
9:00 am-2:00 pm
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TMJ • SW Portland
Find relief from TMJ discomfort with personalized treatment in SW Portland. Regain comfort and function. Contact us to schedule a consultation!
Barnes Dental, 7325 SW Barnes Rd, Portland, OR 97225, (971) 441-5520,, 5/22/2024, Associated Words: dentist Portland OR,