Nocturnal teeth grinding and clenching of the upper and lower jaw are known as sleep bruxism and can have consequences for health. In dental science, the question of whether sleep bruxism is associated with the development or progression of temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorders is controversial. In a study conducted at the University Clinic of Dentistry of the Medical University of Vienna, it was found that certain tooth shapes and locations could lead to TMJ problems as a result of bruxism. The research findings were published in the Journal of Advanced Research.
The often immense pressure exerted on tooth surfaces and on the jaws is thought to cause various dental health problems and can also result in pain in the jaw muscles and headaches. Researchers led by Benedikt Sagl in Vienna have now investigated whether sleep bruxism can also have a negative impact on the TMJ structures. Their research was based on the theory that specific combinations of tooth shape and tooth location during grinding have an influence on the mechanical load on the temporomandibular joint and can thus be considered a risk factor for TMJ disorders.
“Our results show that both the inclination and location of the wear facets have an influence on the strength of the mechanical load on the temporomandibular joint,” explained Sagl, “However, it would appear that the decisive factor is the steepness of the grinding facet. The flatter the tooth, the higher the loading on the joint and therefore the higher the risk of a TMJ disorder”.