Occulsion and TMJ

Occlusion, in a general context, means simply the contact between teeth or how they “bite” together. More technically, it is the relationship between the joints, muscles and the upper and lower teeth during chewing or at rest.

Bruxism is an oral habit of involuntary, rhythmic grinding and clenching of teeth, with the mandible moving in different ways than when chewing. In most people, bruxism is mild enough not to be a health problem.  While bruxism may be a day- or night-time activity, it is bruxism during sleep that causes the majority of health issues and can even occur during short naps. Bruxism is one of the most common events in sleep disorders like sleep apnea.

Temporo-mandibular joint disorder (TMJD or TMD), or TMJ syndrome, is an umbrella term covering acute or chronic inflammation of the temporo-mandibular joints, which connects the mandible to the skull. The disorder and resultant dysfunction can result in significant pain and impairment. Because the disorder transcends the boundaries between several health-care disciplines — in particular, dentistry and neurology — there is a variety of treatment approaches.

Symptoms associated with TMJ disorders may include:

  • Biting or chewing difficulty or discomfort

  • Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth

  • Dull, aching pain or soreness in the face, head, ears, neck and shoulders

  • Migraine (particularly in the morning)

  • Pain or tenderness of the jaw

  • Reduced ability to open or close the mouth