Bruxism is a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJD) characterized by involuntary teeth grinding and jaw clenching. If left untreated, it can negatively affect the correct functioning of the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull and can lead to major oral damage or tinnitus.
According to numerous scientific studies, the factors responsible for the onset of bruxism are many and often concur with each other in determining the phenomenon. The most commonly reported are psychological factors such as stress, states of emotional tension, anxiety, depression. Other causes could be related to disbalances of the chewing muscles, muscular responses to a neurovegetative disease, alterations of the nervous system, gingival and dental inflammation, intake of certain categories of drugs or smoking, alcohol and caffeine abuse.
The consequences of bruxism vary according to the intensity, frequency and persistence of this pathology and must be carefully evaluated. Let's analyze them in detail:
Dysfunctions of the temporomandibular joint are characterized, in some cases, by the presence of ringing in the ear, balance disorders and ear pain. The relationship between ear diseases and alterations of the temporomandibular joint was described for the first time in 1934 by the American otolaryngologist James Bray Costen who noted how many patients complained of severe ear pain despite having a completely healthy ear. Costen attributed these symptoms to a malfunction of the temporomandibular joint. When pressure is put on the joint, it radiates into the ears since they are in close proximity. The pressure irradiated to the ear causes a ringing feeling due to the bone structure responding to the teeth grinding and clenching.
Many years after the development of this theory, the mechanisms underlying this relationship have not yet been scientifically specified, especially because not everyone who suffers from bruxism gets tinnitus, that however, remains one of the many side-effects associated with bruxism.
Bruxism is generally investigated by the dental specialist or gnathologist with an oral appliance therapy. The expert will make an impression of the teeth to create a custom teeth bite to be worn daily or only while sleepeing, depending on the condition severity. The impression is taken with a neuromuscular treatment able to relax jaw muscle and reduce problems in the alignment of the dental arches, reducing jaw ache.
The therapy generally includes actions and medications to treat any anxiety and stress disorders and incorrect lifestyle habits. Tinnitus side-effect should clear up on its own once bruxism is treated.