One of the factors that can contribute to pain that may be a part of temporomandibular joint disorders and that is often considered under this group of conditions is bruxism, which involves clenching and/or grinding of the teeth outside of normal chewing function. Bruxism may be due to problems with breathing, a side effect of medications, or some type of nervous disorder or habit. Bruxism can lead to broken teeth, receding gums, joint pain, and bone loss. Treatment may include protective bite splint therapy and/or bite adjustments to stabilize the teeth when under abnormal function, and sometimes treatment for sleep disordered breathing may be indicated.
CT scan of two TMJs
The images in the bottom row shows a relatively normal TMJ with early joint degeneration; the top row shows a degenerated joint with flattening of the condyle.