Non surgical treatment for clenching and TMJ pain
Clenching and grinding is a problem that many people struggle with. This is understandable as the human bite force is incredibly strong – on average 162lbs per square inch. There are even reports of maximal bite forces exceeding 900lbs! Over time, clenching can lead to tooth wear, headaches, tmj pain, and enlargement of muscles involved with chewing.
One of the simplest ways to combat bruxism is to reduce stress and anxiety in your life. You may benefit from making lifestyle changes such as:
Getting better sleep – follow good sleep hygiene habits such as avoiding screen time before bed, taking a cold shower to encourage natural melatonin release, and avoiding fatty foods close to bedtime.
Watch your diet – eat healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, whole grains. Drink alcohol and caffeine moderately. Avoid tobacco use.
Exercise – Cardiovascular exercise such as walking, jogging, cycling, or yoga can do wonders for stress. Include lifting weights for additional health benefits.
Get your mind right – practice meditation and gratitude. Becoming self aware will allow you to recognize stressful moments during your day so you can address them and become more grounded.
Decreasing tooth to tooth contact, especially at night can prevent wear on enamel and dentin. A night guard or occlusal guard is a device that can be worn over your teeth to achieve this goal. While over the counter options are available, I recommend getting one professionally made by a dentist so that the night guard is customized to precisely fit your mouth and teeth.
In addition to lifestyle modifications and the use of a night guard, many patients have had success dealing with excessive clenching and bruxism with Botox injections. Most people have heard about using Botox to reduce the appearance of facial wrinkles, but it is also used to treat medical conditions such as neck spasms, excessive sweating, chronic migraines, and bruxism. Botox works by inhibiting the release of Acetylcholine at the neuromuscular junction – the connection between the nerve and the muscle. This essentially prevents the muscle from contracting and relaxes the muscle as a result.
In the treatment of bruxism, Botox is most often injected into the masseter muscles in your cheeks. The effects should start within a few days and reach its maximal effect in a few weeks. There are no adverse effect to chewing, talking, or facial expressions. However, some patients may experience some temporary bruising at the injection sites. Botox will last for about 6-8 months before its effects on the muscle start to diminish. Schedule your consultation today to see if botox is right for you.
To your health and prosperity,
Daniel Yang DDS, MD
Yorba Linda Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery
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