What causes us to grind or clench? | TMJ Chiropractor

Jaw clenching or grinding, otherwise known as bruxism, can be a common yet problematic issue when managing TMJ and facial pain. Bruxism can be further distinguished as sleep bruxism, awake bruxism and non-specified bruxism. In order to effectively relieve and manage jaw clenching or grinding, we must initially understand the underlying cause of the behaviour. At an individual level, certain personality traits, such as those with high stress sensitivity or anxious traits, are more likely to develop TMJ pain associated with bruxism.

While bruxism can be chacterised as clenching our teeth during the day or grinding our teeth during our sleep, these behaviours are clearly an effect or output of a wound up or heightened state of nervous system activity. For example, have you ever noticed when you are under significant stress, no matter the origin, that you find yourself more likely to clench, hold tension through your jaw, neck or shoulders?

In summary, it’s important to understand this concept, teeth or jaw clenching and grinding is likely an output or an effect of a heightened central nervous system state. In order to effectively manage it, the underlying nervous system state needs to be considered in the overall management. This is why our Geelong TMJ chiropractors take a holistic and comprehensive approach to the assessment, diagnosis and management of TMJ disorders related to grinding and clenching.

Here's what our Geelong TMJ chiropractors recommend for reducing grinding and clenching behaviours

-Understand your triggers-

Do you ever notice that when you’re under significant stress, whether that be with work, family or any other potential stressor for that matter, that your clenching or grinding becomes more noticeable?

If this is you, chances are you have an underlying nervous system cause of your clenching or grinding.

You don’t know what you don’t know, better understanding your triggers, traits or behaviours when exposed to certain stressors in a good start in managing this long term.

 

Manage your triggers

By managing, I don’t mean trying to control every single stress that gets thrown our way because that never really ends well. Instead, learning to better manage how we respond and ultimately allow these stresses manifest is far more realistic.

Mindfulness-based, non-sleep deep rest (NSDR) strategies have shown to promote a calming and pacifying effect on our central nervous system.

 

-Improve your awareness-

Watch the video to see what our Geelong TMJ chiropractors recommend for improving jaw and muscle awareness.

-Promote better jaw muscle and joint function-

In this video, our Geelong TMJ chiropractors discuss an easy-to-implement exercise to promote better joint and muscle function.

References

  1. Zheng B, Ma J, Wang X, Pu Y, Sun H, Su Y, Yang Q, Lu S, He H. A review about risk factors for bruxism in adults. anxiety. 2022 Mar 1;4(3):33-8. doi: 10.25236/FMSR.2022.040306
  2. Demjaha G, Kapusevska B, Pejkovska-Shahpaska B. Bruxism Unconscious Oral Habit in Everyday Life. Open Access Maced J Med Sci. 2019 Mar 14;7(5):876-881. doi: 10.3889/oamjms.2019.196. PMID: 30962854; PMCID: PMC6447347.
  3. Ronald E. Goldstein, Wendy Auclair Clark, The clinical management of awake bruxism, The Journal of the American Dental Association, Volume 148, Issue 6, 2017, Pages 387-391, ISSN 0002-8177, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.adaj.2017.03.005.
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Empowered Health Team