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Teeth Grinding in Springfield, Illinois: A TMJ Warning Sign

It can be heard from miles away. The grinding and gnashing of bone on bone. It can’t be unheard. It’s like nails on a chalkboard, a Creed song, or when someone is cutting food and scrapes their knife across the plate. Is that last one just me?


As a chiropractor for TMJ in Springfield, Illinois, whenever I hear that sound, I know no good can come from it. Only pain and grimacing. Teeth grinding and TMJ are not the same thing, but many people who have one of these conditions often end up developing the other.

What is TMJ?

TMJ, a disorder affecting the temporomandibular joint (the jaw joint), causes jaw pain and discomfort from performing the most routine and enjoyable activities – eating, smiling, laughing, kissing. TMJ disorders are caused by injury, genetics, arthritis, and are usually treated without surgery. At the Springfield Wellness Center, we provide patients with TMJ relief every day. It’s an issue that affects a joint and we’re joint experts.


What is Bruxism?

TMJ and Bruxism, which is the fancy name we use for teeth grinding, share similar signs and symptoms like ear and facial pain as well as difficulty chewing. TMJ, however, has a tell-tale calling card – clicking of the jaw.


1/3 of people in Springfield, Illinois are culprits of bruxism (I’m fancy). Some grind while they’re awake and others while they’re asleep. Awake bruxism is usually stress-related or the result of a bad habit while sleep bruxism is a sleep disorder. Look out for:

  • Awakening a sleeping partner
  • Fractured, chipped, loose, or flat teeth
  • Erratically worn tooth enamel
  • Teeth become sensitive to extreme temperatures
  • Pain and soreness in the face and jaw
  • Tight jaw muscles
  • Ear pain
  • Dull headache in the temples
  • Sore spots inside the mouth
  • Indentations in the tongue

The lucky researchers that have devoted their careers to bruxism estimate that 20%-30% of children grind their teeth. This is not good. They’ve linked asthma, upper airway infections, and anxiety to teeth grinding in children – none of these things should be borne by a child. Some children may also start grinding their teeth as a natural response to pain. In adults, bruxism may indicate a more serious underlying medical condition:

  • Sleep apnea
  • Huntington’s Disease
  • Parkinson’s Disease
  • GERD
  • Anxiety disorder
  • Depression
  • Unresolved anger or frustration
  • Unmanaged stress


Bruxism can lead to TMJ disorders or aggravate an existing condition. Constantly grinding the teeth can push them out of alignment. My dad paid a significant amount of money to properly align my teeth as a child and I’m sure he’s not the only one. A misaligned bite will cause the jaw muscles to reposition the temporomandibular joints out of their sockets. Misalignment in the jaw is an invitation for a TMJ disorder. And not a Paperless Post evite, a handwritten-we-hired-a-calligrapher-fish-or-beef invite.


In order to prevent TMJ pain and dysfunction, there are several natural bruxism interventions we can make to stop TMJ before it has a chance to send an RSVP, because they’re definitely going to have a plus one.

Natural Treatments for Bruxism to Prevent TMJ in Springfield, Illinois

Mouth Guard

For those with sleep bruxism, invest in a custom night guard. This is one of the most common treatments. A mouthguard will separate the teeth and prevent damage from riding or clenching. Some people think a mouth guard is uncomfortable. I personally wear a mouthguard and, while initially, it took some getting used to, I now feel like something is missing if I sleep without it. What people should really be worried about is that they dramatically reduce the sexiness level.


Nightguards are highly recommended for those who share a bed with a patient and, probably, very tired partner.

Alignment Correction

This is a great long-term option, though a bit of an investment. If improperly aligned teeth are the source of the bruxism, correct the alignment. It’s not rocket science. Dentists and orthodontists have several options available from braces to crowns, to reshaping the teeth. This isn’t the most “natural” option, but I imagine it’s better than having to wire the jaw shut.


This is a great option for those whose bruxism is a bad habit and not the result of an underlying health condition. By identifying and altering mental activities and physical reactions biofeedback therapists train their patients to regulate their unconscious actions so that they can better manage their stress.


I know, but it’s not. It’s been used since the 1970s! And research continues to accumulate in favor of using biofeedback for a bunch of different conditions like chronic pain, ADHD, heart disease, high blood pressure, IBS, and…TMJ!

Valerian Root

This supplement has been used as a sedative and anti-anxiety treatment for generations. It also improves people’s quality of sleep with no reported side effects.


This may be just the thing for those with night bruxism to help them relax and enjoy a more restful and quiet night sleep.

Stress Management

For many, bruxism is related to stress so reducing anxiety will dramatically improve the condition. There is no way to escape stress, especially these days. It’s lurking around every corner causally setting up booby traps using banana peels and multinational insurance companies that don’t pick their phones.

Exercise, mediation, yoga, a healthy diet, even essential oils, are great relaxation techniques to reduce stress and clear the mind. Chiropractic care also has a profound influence on lowering stress levels. Chiropractic adjustments trigger the release of oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, our natural feel-good hormones, and accelerate the body’s natural healing process. Explains why I’ve devoted my life to it.


SAVE OUR NUMBER NOW in case the habit of teeth grinding escalates into a TMJ disorder. Call us or schedule a time to meet with one of our amazing doctors. The chiropractors at the Springfield Wellness Center have helped hundreds of patients alleviate their TMJ pain and get back to doing all the things that Springfieldians love to do: laugh, give babies gentle kisses, and sing along to Katy Perry alone in their cars.

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