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  • Dr. Mark Freund

Causes and Symptoms of Bruxism & TMJ Disorder

Updated: Jul 13, 2021

bruxism and tmj disorder caauses and symptoms

TMJ syndrome, which can sometimes be confused with Bruxism Syndrome due to their relation and impact on each other, is one of the primary conditions we treat If you have spent some time researching TMJ disorders, you are probably familiar with these terms but confused about the contradictory information. The reason why these two terms are often confused and mixed up is that bruxism can play an important role in the development of TMJ disorder.

There is a link between bruxism and the development potential of temporomandibular joint issues, which is why it is often referred to as TMJ syndrome, TMJ disorder, or TMJ disfunction, even though it is a separate condition. Because both have similar symptoms and cause comparable types of pain and discomfort, it is sometimes difficult to determine whether you are suffering from bruxism or TMJ. Unfortunately, without the help of your dentist or chiropractor, it can be difficult to determine why these symptoms occur because they present symptoms for a variety of reasons.

A number of studies have shown a strong relationship between bruxism and TMJ disorder, but the exact relationship is unclear. Most patients diagnosed with TMJ disorder proved that bruxism is a risk factor for developing TMJ disorder and other diseases. Bruxism, which leads to symptoms of TMD, may coexist, but can have complex symptoms that are hard to distinguish.. In this article, we will help clarify the difference between bruxism and TMJ and give you some tips on how to treat both conditions.

What is Bruxism?

causes and symptoms of bruxism

Bruxism is a condition in which you grit your teeth and grind them in your sleep. Even chewing nails or pencils, biting on the tongue or cheeks is considered a form of bruxism. Bruxism is a serious disease that can lead to tooth decay, tooth loss, and other permanent damage to the teeth. It is a condition where one subconsciously presses on the jaw and subconsciously gnashes or grits teeth.

Consider your sleep movements in connection with this disorder to find signs of bruxism and temporomandibular joint disease and other sleep disorders that can trigger them, such as sleep apnea and sleep paralysis.

Causes and Symptoms of Bruxism & TMJ Disorder

TMJ can also be caused by bruxism, which can worsen pain in the muscles and joints that attach the lower jaw to the skull, such as the joint between the teeth.

What Causes Bruxism?

If you have bruxism, you might grind your teeth unconsciously while you sleep or grind your teeth during the day. Some people suffer from this disease in their sleep, others in their waking state, but when awake, it can be due to anxiety or stress.

explaining bruxism and tmj disorder


People grit their teeth during the day, often in stressful times and may not be aware of it. You may suffer from bruxism when you grind your teeth unconsciously, and your dentist may not notice any signs of it. It is difficult to diagnose the cause of bruxism, but it is often associated with misalignments of teeth due to stress and anxiety. Some people clench their jaws when they are concentrating deeply or dealing with intense emotions, and this can lead to teeth grinding or even a sudden loss of control over their jaw. Other possible causes include anxiety, depression, or a combination of other factors and mental disorders.


Sleep bruxism can be the result of genetics, and if you have a family member with a history of the disease, you may be at increased risk. You can also assume that you suffer from bruising if family members have behaved in this way or if they have suffered from it themselves. It can be associated with other conditions such as sleep apnea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and irritability.

Sleep Disorders

Sleep bruxism is a parasomnia associated with teeth grinding during the sleep cycle. During a normal sleep cycle, we have a reactivation of the brain that allows us to become more aware of our surroundings before we actually wake up. Sleep disorders were once thought to be linked to psychosocial factors, but recent research has not confirmed this link. A key factor is now thought to be the most likely cause of sleep bruxism.

This reactivation is called microstimulation and allows the body to adjust temperature, heart rate and breathing rate and wake up when a threat is perceived. These excitations usually occur about once a minute, but sometimes they last for hours or even days.

Studies have shown that sleepwalkers have a higher rate of bruxism than non-sleepwalking people with TMJ disorder. During sleep without REM, most bruises occur, and additional arousal is more common, but most only last a few seconds.

It is estimated that up to 20% of the population suffer from bruxism, and studies have also shown that the heart rate increases during bruxism episodes. It is thought that this is caused by increased neural activity, which stimulates motor neurons and leads to rhythmic contractions of muscles (chewing) and bruising.

Interestingly, in people with temporomandibular joint diseases and in people with other neurological disorders, a contraction rhythm of the chewing muscles was also found upon contact with teeth. The increase in heart rate, is caused by increased neural activity in the brain, which stimulates motor cells and muscle contraction.

When you grind your teeth, you may find that you have pain or discomfort in your head and jaw. It is a good idea to go to the dentist, as gnashing teeth can contribute to oral health problems. It is therefore important to visit the dentist regularly to detect the condition and avoid additional dental complications.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

If the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jaw to the skull, behaves in such a way that it no longer works properly, or if the upper and lower jaw do not converge evenly on both sides during the bite, problems with the temporomandibular joints can occur. If your teeth are already worn and broken by bruxism, they may not meet evenly when biting, which will only exacerbate the TMJ dysfunction.

TMJ disorder causes

When this happens, sufferers are more likely to suffer pain, discomfort and dental damage associated with temporomandibular joint disorders and bruxism. People with Temporomandibular Joint Disease (TMD) will experience pain in their joints and may even find that their jaw cannot move.

It is important to get a diagnosis from your doctor to determine whether there are differences between Bruxism and dysfunction of the TM joint that can often overlap. Some people with TMJ problems may show symptoms that can be very distressing and have a significant impact on their lives.

TMD sufferers also have unique symptoms associated with gnashing teeth and gritting, such as a compressed jaw. Another factor in teeth grinding is that your bite is unbalanced, there is excessive stress due to the temporomandibular joint disease.


If you suspect you have bruxism or TMJ problems, go to your dentist or chiropractor for an accurate diagnosis before you start treatment. If the cause of your jaw pain is teeth grinding or gnashing, your dentist may recommend the most conservative treatment options for the temporomandibular joints. If you are constantly grinding your teeth and suffering from chronic TMJ, you may be able to help find relief through a tailored treatment. However, if you have talked to a dentist and found that your bruxism is very mild, it may help you to try less invasive treatment options with a chiropractor.

How Can a Chiropractor Help?

Your doctor or chiropractor can detect changes in the disk displacement of the temporomandibular joints. Your doctor or chiropractor will understand the different symptoms of bruxism and temporomandibular disorder and help you find the right treatment.

examining jaw for TMJ  issues

If you feel that you have TMJ syndrome, it is best to contact a chiropractor to get the correct diagnosis and treatment. If your case has severely misaligned teeth, and jaws, your chiropractor can also refer you to an orthodontist or oral surgeon to correct the cause of bruxism or TMJ disease. Your chiropractor will assess the severity of the problem and recommend the correct treatment. Contact your local chiropractor in Lindenhurst at Natural Chiropractic Care today for a full assessment and to learn more about your treatment options.

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