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Bruxism and TMJ Disorder: What is the difference?

TMJ disorder Fort Worth

Many patients suffer from bruxism or TMJ disorder. They have similar symptoms and it can be difficult to differentiate between the two. People often try to self-diagnose but the trained eye of a dentist knows what to look for and how to tell the difference, so they can be treated successfully. Let’s explore them both.


Bruxism is typically defined as involuntary habitual grinding or teeth clenching. It may or may not be done consciously and it often happens while patients are sleeping. Bruxism is not uncommon, but it must be diagnosed by a dentist. Symptoms include headaches, jaw pain, tooth sensitivity, and abnormal wear to the teeth.

Bruxism is a serious condition which must be treated accordingly. While specialists have not yet determined one root cause, they have determined that there can be many triggers which can contribute to flare ups. Untreated bruxism can cause a host of serious problems. Treatment typically includes behavior modification to avoid associated triggers and regular use of custom fit mouth guards to help protect teeth.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint which is found on either side of the jaw. This joint holds the upper and lower jaw together and permits movement. Patients with TMJ have symptoms similar to bruxism and often include a clicking or popping sound which can be felt and heard. Untreated symptoms can be burdensome, painful and damaging.

Different Treatments

A patient diagnosed with bruxism may be given a mouth guard which acts as a protective barrier between the upper and lower teeth. On the other hand, a patient diagnosed with TMJ may be given a mouth guard which acts more like a splint. It will reposition the jaw and raise the bite to alleviate discomfort. A splint treating TMJ disorder may need to be adjusted by the dentist to achieve maximum results.

If you suffer from jaw pain or you grind your teeth, make an appointment with our office today. Bruxism and TMJ are serious disorders which must be diagnosed and treated by a dentist. Our highly trained professionals know what to look for and prefer to successfully treat these disorders.

Call our office to schedule an evaluation with Dr. Parham!

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Our practice is committed to provide a full range of preventive and cosmetic options to help you achieve a cleaner, healthier, more attractive smile. We'll work with you to determine the best course of treatment, the most convenient scheduling and the most appropriate financial arrangements. We pride ourselves on making dental visits a positive, pleasant experience for everyone.
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