COVID Increases Teeth Grinding and Prevalence of TMJ

Teeth Grinding TMJ Treatment

COVID Causing you to Grind Your Teeth? Weirdest new COVID Sign and how to Treat it

As if having the pandemic affect every aspect of our waking lives is not enough, new research is showing that it might be wreaking havoc on your teeth during your sleeping hours. According to the Department of Oral Medicine at the University of Washington’s School of Dentistry, there are now epidemic numbers of patients who are suffering from jaw muscle pain and TMJ. Apparently, the stress and worry are now taking their toll on our dental health as well.

The Prevalence Rates Pre-COVID Estimates of Bruxism

Estimates indicate that nearly ten percent of adults, and as many as 15% of children, grind or clench their teeth at night. Roughly 8% of middle-aged adults have sleep bruxism, and 3% of elderly adults grind their teeth while sleeping. Although those numbers seem somewhat low, when you consider the population as a whole, the pandemic has increased the percentages significantly. And it has quickly become a condition that needs to be addressed by oral professionals around the nation.

teeth grinding TMJ Treatment
Teeth grinding TMJ Treatment

What is TMJ?

TMJ is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your skull to your jawbone. TMJ can lead to jaw pain and decreased control of jaw movement. Although it can sometimes be difficult to decipher what is causing TMJ symptoms, there are several known contributing factors, but one of the most prominent is grinding or clenching your teeth (bruxism). For many patients, wearing a mouthguard can help to reduce the symptoms of TMJ by disallowing patients to clench or grind their teeth while sleeping. But there are other alternatives as well.

How Botox Treats TMJ

Botox is a neuromodulator protein that has many uses in the medical field, one is to treat the symptoms associated with TMJ. It can help to alleviate jaw tension, lockjaw, and headaches that stem from habitually grinding or clenching your teeth. A 2012 study concluded that Botox significantly increased jaw control and decreased pain for those who participated. For patients who don’t get relief from wearing a mouthguard, or simply don’t want the hassle of it, Botox is an excellent and cheap alternative.

The Benefits of TMJ for Botox

Botox works by blocking nerve signals that can lead to pain and muscle dysfunction. Unlike other surgical options that are highly invasive, Botox is a safe and effective treatment with very few, if any, adverse side effects. It is also a very cost-effective and lasting solution. Once you allow the jaw muscle to relax, you should experience immediate results.

At Tatum Dentistry, we understand how hard the past several months have been for us all. We are taking every precaution to keep our patients safe and encourage you to keep your regularly scheduled exams for preventative oral care. If you are experiencing headaches, jaw pain, or muscle coordination issues, contact our office for an exam today.