In some circles, the TMJ disorder and bruxism are used almost interchangeably. However, they are two very distinct dental issues, though often you have both with one irritating the other. It is important that if you suspect you have either issue to consult your dentist right away. While bruxism is often easy to diagnose, because TMJ can manifest such a wide variety of symptoms, it can be more difficult to pin down. However, while these two conditions present similar symptoms in those who suffer from either, how can you tell the difference between them?

Bruxism is not to be confused with full on TMJ disorder. Bruxism is a term that specifically describes grinding your teeth. Often when this condition manifests, it is because you grind your teeth in your sleep. You may manifest tooth sensitivity, headaches, and jaw pain because you don’t even realize you grind your teeth in your sleep.

TMJ disorder, on the other hand, is specifically named not after a tooth disorder, but a disorder with the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. This disorder occurs when the cartilage of the joint is wearing away and manifests in a wide variety of symptoms. It can present as pain in the jaw or teeth, but it most commonly diagnosed apart from other issues by a clicking or popping sound that happens in the area in front of the ear.

The reason these two distinct conditions are often confused is because bruxism can often play a huge role in the development and aggravation of TMJ disorder. The constant grinding motion of the teeth is not only hard on those teeth, but it hard on the jaw as well. Often when bruxism is diagnosed, the distinctive clicking in the jaw has not started yet. This is why pain may still continue even though the bruxism is being treated.

If you are experience tooth and jaw pain or even headaches, don’t consult your doctor, you should be consulting your dentist. The longer TMJ or bruxism is left untreated, the worse it gets and the more damage you do to your jaw area. Never ignore dental pain, instead just contact us today.