6th April 2023

Bruxism vs TMJ - What is the Difference?

Last Modified: May 4, 2023

Understanding Bruxism and TMJ

Bruxism and TMJ are two conditions that are often confused with each other, even though they have different causes, symptoms, and treatments. Bruxism, also known as teeth grinding, is a habit that involves the involuntary grinding of the teeth, often during sleep. TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is a group of conditions that affect the jaw joint and surrounding muscles. TMJ leads to pain and dysfunction around the jaw. It's important to Understand the differences for Bruxism vs TMJ, to receive the proper diagnosis and treatment for these conditions.

Causes of Bruxism vs Causes of TMJ

The causes of Bruxism and TMJ can be quite different. Bruxism is often linked to stress and anxiety, this can lead to the involuntary grinding of the teeth. Other factors that can contribute to Bruxism include certain medications, alcohol and drug use, and sleep disorders.

Whereas TMJ can have many causes, including misaligned teeth, injury or trauma to the jaw, arthritis, and even genetics. Sometimes, TMJ can also be related to other underlying medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome. To find the best treatment option for your Bruxism or TMJ it is key to identify the underlying causes.

picture of bottles of alcohol - a cause of TMJ and bruxism

Symptoms of Bruxism vs Symptoms for TMJ

The symptoms and diagnosis of Bruxism compared to TMJ can vary depending on the individual and the severity of the condition.

Common symptoms of Bruxism include:

Teeth grinding or clenching,

Jaw pain,

Headaches,

And tooth sensitivity (no one likes a sensitive tooth).

TMJ symptoms can include:

Jaw pain,

Clicking or popping sounds (like cracking knuckles) when opening or closing the mouth,

Difficulty chewing or opening the mouth,

And aching facial pain.

How Do I know Whether I Have Bruxism or TMJ?

A healthcare professional can diagnose Bruxism and TMJ via a physical examination of the jaw and teeth. They can also review the patient's medical history and symptoms. To determine the appropriate treatment options for managing Bruxism and TMJ a Proper diagnosis is important. Contact us today if you would like a diagnosis.

A diagnosis for bruxism vs TMJ

Prevention Strategies for Bruxism vs Prevention for TMJ

Here are some prevention strategies for Bruxism:

  1. Use regular exercise and stress management techniques to Reduce stress and anxiety. 
  2. Avoid or limit the consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and caffeine, as these can worsen teeth grinding and clenching.
  3. Avoid chewing on non-food items, such as pens or pencils, which can contribute to Bruxism.
  4. Practice jaw and tongue exercises, such as relaxing the jaw muscles or touching the tip of the tongue to the roof of the mouth.
  5. Consider reducing or eliminating medications that may be linked to Bruxism, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
  6. Avoid too much jaw movements, such as chewing gum, eating hard or chewy foods, or opening the mouth too wide.

Prevention methods for TMJ:

  1. To reduce strain on the neck and shoulders, Try to maintain good posture, especially when sitting at a desk or using a computer.
  2. Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress and tension in the jaw and facial muscles. These can include deep breathing or meditation.
  3. Consider Appling heat or cold packs to the jaw area to help reduce pain and inflammation. Alternating between hot and cold therapy is a good idea.
  4. Practice gentle jaw stretching exercises, such as opening and closing the mouth slowly or moving the jaw from side to side.
  5. Consider complementary therapies, such as acupuncture or massage therapy, which can help reduce TMJ symptoms.

Test out these prevention methods, they will reduce the likelihood of you getting TMJ or Bruxism. This prevents the impact of these conditions on your quality of life, so you don't have to suffer!

This article was read and reviewed by the face of DR Aesthetica himself - DR Baldeep Farmah.

Are Bruxism and TMJ Linked?

Bruxism and TMJ are often linked but they are two separate conditions. Bruxism, or teeth grinding and clenching, can contribute to TMJ disorders by putting excessive strain on the jaw muscles and joints. Over time, this can lead to inflammation, pain, and dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, which connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorders can cause or worsen Bruxism as the pain linked with TMJ can trigger teeth grinding and clenching. Both conditions can cause each other but it isn't always likely (thank god for that).

While Bruxism and TMJ are not always linked, it is important to address both conditions to ease symptoms and prevent further damage.

Treatment Options for Bruxism vs Treatment for TMJ

Botox treatment is not a permanent solution and lasts for around six months, yet Botox (botulinum toxin) treatment is a minimally invasive option that can be effective in reducing the symptoms of both Bruxism and TMJ. Botox works by weakening the muscles responsible for teeth grinding and clenching.

Human jaw anatomy

Botox's effects on Bruxism?

A small amount of Botox is directly injected into the masseter muscle, which is the muscle responsible for chewing. Botox can reduce the force of teeth grinding and clenching by decreasing the strength of this muscle, which can ease symptoms of Bruxism.

and how does Botox work for TMJ?

Botox is injected into the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint. This causes the muscles surrounding the joint to weaken. By weakening these muscles, Botox can reduce inflammation and ease pain associated with TMJ disorders. So you can relax again!

Botox is not recommended for everyone, and potential risks and side effects include pain, swelling, bruising, and changes in facial expressions. At DR Aesthetica 95% of TMJ/Bruxism Botox treatments are successful.

Botox has to be executed by a licensed and experienced medical professional. You can discuss the potential benefits of Botox with us, feel free to contact us today to talk to us about your TMJ or Bruxism struggles. We are all ears to hear about your struggles.

Post Reviewed by: Dr Baldeep Farmah
Medically Reviewed on: 6th April 2023
Dr Baldeep Farmah is the Medical Director and lead Doctor of Dr Aesthetica, a Medical Aesthetic Clinic.

"We want to empower everyone who walks through our clinic doors, to be able to look in the mirror and see a happier, brighter version of themselves."

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