Chronic teeth clenching and grinding is a concern for many of our patients. Sometimes patients are unaware of these habits, other times they are consciously aware of the problem but are not sure how to stop it.
People can clench for a variety of reasons and part of our role at The Headache Neck & Jaw Clinic is to determine whether clenching is the cause or result of their pain or dysfunction. Clenching can be caused as a result of poor stability and control within the TMJ and/or cervical spine. The clenchers become overdominate to try and stabilise the joint/s e.g. weakness in pterygoid musculature will lead to the temporalis becoming overactive to control lateral jaw movements. Weakness in the anterior cervical musculature will lead to overcompensation from the jaw, when we load the cervical spine by getting the patient to hold their head off the end of the bed they are no longer able to control jaw movement as the jaw parafunction is compensating to support the weight of the head. This is often associated with a forward head posture.
Clenching can also be a secondary response to things such as stress, anxiety and medication. When we have addressed the musculoskeletal component to clenching, if the patient continues to report issues we begin to discuss alternate adjunct treatment methods such as splint therapy, stress management or botox injections. These recommendations are assessed on an individual level.
Written By Jessica Dowling