Tag Archive for: tmj

How to Stop Grinding Your Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, is a common affliction among both children and adults. Many people also tightly clench their jaws, whether consciously or not, as a response to stressful situations or as a habit. Others only clench or grind their teeth against each other at night – and may not even be aware of it until their sleep partner tells them so! Categorized by when the condition occurs, the two different types of bruxism are called “awake bruxism” and “sleep bruxism.” A person may suffer from one or both.

Your cheek is one of the strongest in your entire body, so it stands to reason that putting that much pressure on your teeth and jaw can, over time, cause a lot of issues. When grinding or clenching is done frequently, patients can experience negative repercussions like achy jaws, teeth damage, headaches, neck and head tension, TMJ issues, and much more. Repetitive grinding can literally wear your teeth down to stubs.

From our team at Chauvin Dental in Lafayette, Louisiana, here’s everything you need to know about teeth grinding.

Common Causes of Bruxism

Different people grind their teeth for different reasons, but here are a few of the most common situations we see:

  • Sleep disorders like sleep apnea
  • Missing teeth
  • Usage of certain prescribed medications
  • Stress

Self-Treatment for Bruxism

First, you need to see your dentist to evaluate the damage to your dental health. Together, you can develop a plan to protect your teeth. However, here are some useful tips that anyone can practice to lessen the impact of bruxism on your teeth:

  • If your bruxism is stress-related, you’ll need to decrease stress in your life (which is good for anyone!). You should think about your specific stressors and try to come up with any ideas that can help you to manage or mitigate them.
  • Make an active effort to relax your jaw throughout the day. Set a reminder on your phone to check in and see if you’re tense or holding your stress in your jaw. Separate your teeth and rest your tongue on the back side of your top row of teeth to make sure you’re not clenching.
  • Avoid caffeinated beverages and alcohol, as these can aggravate or worsen your condition.
  • Exercise.
  • Try not to chew on candies, gum, pens, or pencils.
  • Stretch your jaw by opening your mouth as wide as you can.
  • Massage your jaw and face to relieve tightness and tension. You can also use a warm cloth to relax the area.
  • In severe cases, certain prescription medications may help relieve the pain. Ask your dentist if this is an appropriate option for you.

Mouth Guards

If you suffer from sleep bruxism, a mouth guard will likely be an important line of defense for your teeth. Your dentist can professionally fit you for the guard, which you put in each night before bed to protect your teeth from pressure.

Schedule an appointment with Dr. Chauvin today

If you visit your dentist before permanent damage is done to your teeth by bruxism, the chances are very good that you will be able to get things under control and protect your teeth for the future. Don’t let bruxism get the best of you: schedule a visit with Chauvin Dental today!

Why is your jaw popping?

jaw painDo you notice your jaw popping all of the time? Does it happen when you’re eating or just for no reason? While there is no scientific evidence suggesting that the popping or clicking sounds coming from the jaw bone are cause for concern – These sounds happen to be very common in the general population. Now, if this popping sound is accompanied by pain, stiffness or limited movement of the jaw then you’ll want to alert your dentist right away.



This clicking or popping sound is known medically as Temporomandibular Disorder or TMJ/TMD.  Temporomandibular disorder occurs as a result of injury or imbalance of the jaw joints, jaw muscles or other closely aligned structures. Contributing factors to TMJ include jaw postural imbalance, abnormal jaw function, stretched or strained muscles and/or ligaments and illnesses such as arthritis. It has been shown that work stress or problems at home can have an impact on temporomandibular disorders.

Symptoms of TMD / TMJ:

  • Pain in the jaw area
  • Pain, ringing, or stuffiness in the ears
  • Frequent headaches or neck aches
  • Clicking or popping sound when the jaw moves
  • Swelling on the sides of the face
  • Muscle spasms in the jaw area
  • A change in the alignment of top and bottom teeth
  • Locked jaw or limited opening of the mouth

TMD / TMJ sufferers may also experience dizziness, jaw fatigue, sinus problems, dental pain, sleep disruption, grinding and clenching behavior.

Contributing factors of TMD / TMJ:

  • Jaw motions not needed to survive

    • Chewing gum
    • Biting your nails
    • Constant snacking
  • Unusual jaw positions
    • Phone use for long periods of time
    • Talking for extended periods
    • Smoking
  • Irregularities in the mouth
    • Missing teeth
    • Broken and missing fillings
    • Arthritis
    • Jaw injury


Treatment for TMD / TMJ:

If any of this applies to you, talk to your dentist. Your dentist will test your ability to open and close your jaw and feel the jaw joint and muscles for pain or tenderness. Your dentist will then listen in front of the ear for any clicking, popping or grinding sounds and will feel the jaw joint while you open and close it. X-rays are often taken to look at the jaw joint and to rule out other diseases.

While we advise you to discuss any TMD symptoms with your dentist, occasional discomfort in the jaw joint and chewing muscles is quite common and usually not a cause for concern. However, if you are diagnosed with TMD, the good news is that at home treatments are highly effective in dealing with the discomfort. You can start by eating soft foods, applying heat or ice packs and avoiding extreme jaw movements. Effective, conservative treatments include nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants, physical therapy and oral appliances.

Contact Dr. Chauvin to discuss your jaw discomfort today.