Bruxism is an abnormal jaw clenching or grinding of the teeth, either while awake or during sleep. This can cause neck and shoulder tension caused by excess pressure on the neck and jaw muscles. Individuals may not realize they have bruxism until a dentist notices excess wear and tear or a chiropractor examines their symptoms. Bruxism can play a role in temporomandibular disorders. Doctors and dentists agree that factors like stress increase the likelihood of jaw clenching. Dentists usually recommend a mouth guard to prevent grinding. Chiropractic care, massage, and decompression therapy can relieve symptoms, release and relax the muscles, realign the spine, and restore function.
There is awake bruxism and sleep bruxism. A tight jaw generates tension extending to the neck, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Over time, that excess strain irritates the joints, causing inflammation. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding can lead to health issues like damaged teeth, neck, shoulder, and upper back pain symptoms, and tension headaches.
Signs and symptoms can include:
- Face, jaw, neck, and upper back aches, tightness, and soreness.
- Tired or tight jaw muscles.
- Headaches that start in the temples.
- What feels like earache pain symptoms.
- Damage from clenching on the inside of the cheek.
- Increased tooth sensitivity.
- Teeth that are loose, flattened, chipped, or fractured.
- Sleep problems.
- Emotional tension – Stress, anxiety, frustration, and anger.
- Sleep Disorders
- An unhealthy lifestyle – smoking, excess drinking, caffeine, etc., disrupts brain and cardiovascular functions.
Chiropractic Care for Jaw Clenching
If there is a jaw clenching or grinding issue, it is recommended to see a dentist for a professional diagnosis. Then a chiropractor can develop a personalized treatment plan that utilizes massage and decompression therapy to re-position the jaw, stretch, release and relax the muscles. They will recommend exercises to strengthen and maintain the relaxed jaw muscles and awareness exercises to help identify triggers and prevent clenching.
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Kuhn, Monika, and Jens Christoph Türp. “Risk factors for bruxism.” Swiss dental journal vol. 128,2 (2018): 118-124.
Nishida, Norihiro et al. “Stress analysis of the cervical spinal cord: Impact of the morphology of spinal cord segments on stress.” The journal of spinal cord medicine vol. 39,3 (2016): 327-34. doi:10.1179/2045772315Y.0000000012
Ohayon, M M et al. “Risk factors for sleep bruxism in the general population.” Chest vol. 119,1 (2001): 53-61. doi:10.1378/chest.119.1.53
Santos Miotto Amorim, Cinthia, et al. “Effectiveness of two physical therapy interventions, relative to dental treatment in individuals with bruxism: study protocol of a randomized clinical trial.” Trials vol. 15 8. 7 Jan. 2014, doi:10.1186/1745-6215-15-8
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