Skip to content

Night-time Teeth Grinding | Team Approach Aims to Find Causes of Pain

The Age NOVEMBER 19, 2017 Page 21

Team Approach Aims to Find Causes of PainQuality of sleep, posture and joint inflammation can contribute to the root causes of night-time teeth clenching or grinding. A team of Melbourne health professionals are helping sufferers of headaches, poor sleep, neck and back pain find the cause of their discomfort through combined dental and chiropractic treatments.

At TMJ Therapy Centre, Dentist Dr Wally Hassoun and Chiropractor Dr Jonathan Lubetzky want patients to understand that night-time teeth clenching or grinding may be connected to a significant underlying cause.

Dr Wally Hassoun says that grinding can be a warning sign of something more serious, such as a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, where the joint connecting the lower jaw to the skull is inflamed.

“One of the things that people don’t realise is that when you are clenching or grinding at night, the force you put on your teeth is five times greater than what you do during the day,” says Dr Hassoun. “You’re putting so much stress on the teeth, the muscle and the ligaments that it can lead to a TMJ disorder.”

The centre’s dental-chiropractic team investigates a range of factors that might be contributing to the root cause, says Dr Hassoun. The team considers jaw function, bite, breathing, quality of sleep, posture and joint inflammation to help determine an appropriate treatment plan for patients.

“Clenching or grinding might be the first symptom that we become aware of, but it is almost always a sign of a bigger problem,” says Dr Lubetzky. “If we look a little deeper, there are other pieces of the puzzle going on to do with our postural system, our jaw function, sleep, breathing and our pain levels.”

“Any child that can be heard grinding their teeth while sleeping should be investigated,” says Dr Hassoun. “This could be an early sign of an airway issue that should be assessed as early as possible. Some of these kids may also be snoring. Left untreated, the chances of uneven dental arches and crowded teeth escalates dramatically.”

Dr Hassoun says that once the cause is determined, the TMJ Therapy Centre team determines the best course of action. That may be dental treatment, chiropractic treat- ment or combined methods.

“That’s why it’s important to have a relationship like we do, to find out the true origin of the problem and how to treat it; either by us or a referral to the range of practitioners and specialists we work with,” he says.

It could be something as simple as finding the right dental device for a patient. Dr Hassoun explains that often when a patient has been unable to tolerate a splint or night guard in the past, it may be that their airway and the soft tissues of the mouth are being irritated in some way.

“If that’s the case, it’s the wrong appliance,” he says. “People may not be driven to seek treatment just for the symptom of grinding,” says Dr Lubetzky, who finds that people are often more concerned by headache, jaw, neck and shoulder pain and sleep disturbances. Practitioners and patients need to be aware that these things are interconnected.”

TMJ Therapy Centre | (03) 9804 7454