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Teeth Grinding vs TMJ: What's the Difference?

October 26, 2022
Posted By: Dr. Michael Unti

Do you ever wake up with a headache or a sore jaw? Or maybe you notice that your teeth feel a little more sensitive than usual. If you've been experiencing any of these symptoms, you may be wondering whether it's due to teeth grinding (bruxism) or temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Both conditions can cause pain and other uncomfortable symptoms, but they're actually quite different. Keep reading to learn more about the difference between teeth grinding and TMJ.

Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Bruxism is the medical term for teeth grinding. It can occur during the day or at night, but most people are not aware they're doing it. Bruxism often occurs in response to stress, but it can also be caused by misaligned teeth, an abnormal bite, or gum recession.

Symptoms of bruxism include headaches, earache, facial pain, jaw pain, and sensitivity in the teeth. Bruxism can also cause tooth wear and tear over time. If you think you may be grinding your teeth at night, it's a good idea to call and make an appointment at our Palatine dental office. We can rule out any underlying dental problems and recommend a treatment plan.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your lower jaw to your skull and allows you to move your jaw up and down, side to side, and forwards and backwards. TMJ disorder occurs when there is dysfunction in this joint, which can be caused by injury, arthritis, teeth clenching or grinding, or even stress.

Common symptoms of TMJ include pain in the jaw joint area, clicking or popping sounds when moving the jaw, pain when chewing, difficulty opening the mouth, and swelling on one side of the face. We encourage you to contact us if you experience any of these symptoms—as this is not normal—and your symptoms can worsen over time. TMJ symptoms can range from mild to severe, and over time, this can cause permanent damage to the TMJ.

Is There a Palatine Dentist That Offers TMJ Treatment?

Yes, and for over 30 years and we’ll continue to provide our patients with the most advanced treatments and technology available. TMD (temporomandibular disorder) cannot be treated with a one-size-fits-all solution. As a TMJ specialist, Dr. Unti can customize your treatment based on your specific needs. TMJ pain no longer has to take over your life.

Teeth grinding and TMJ are often confused because they both involve the jaw. But it’s important to remember they are two completely different conditions. If you're experiencing any jaw pain or any of the symptoms above, please contact us—we are here to help!

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