TMJ problems are problems associated with the jaw joints and or muscles of the head and neck. Included in this category of problems are clenching, grinding of the teeth, frequent headaches, and pain of the muscles around the jaws.
Other clues that an individual is grinding their teeth (other than testimony from their spouse) are flat or worn teeth, loose teeth, recession of the gums and angular notches on the outside of the teeth near the gums on some but not all of the teeth.
It is not well understood why some people grind or clench their teeth while sleeping. Stress often plays a part and it is generally thought that imperfections in how the teeth fit together also contribute to this problem. Imagine having one leg longer than the other. Very soon you will be trying to accommodate this by walking differently and using muscles in an unusual manner. This type of muscle imbalance is generally the underlying cause of TMJ (temporomandibular joint- the medical term for the jaw joint) problems.
Grinding can be very destructive and expensive to repair, therefore, it is wise to intervene early.
The conservative treatment employed by Dr. Silberman is generally to fabricate an acrylic splint or bite plate. This is similar to what an athlete wears but smaller and custom made. It is for the upper or lower teeth but not both. It does not change the teeth in any way but provides a “perfect” bite when in use. It generally provides an increase in comfort by letting the muscles relax and find their natural position of rest. It is also diagnostic; if pain and discomfort subsides with its use the causes can be concluded to be from the teeth, if not, other considerations must be made.
After some time with splint use an analysis can be made to determine what changes if any could be made to the teeth for long term health benefits.Back