Issue 12 Autumn 2015

Are You A Grinder Or A Clencher?

Grinding & clenching are often signs of a jaw joint problem or TMJ


What does TMJ stand for?

The Temporomandibular joint is a hinge that connect you jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are in front of each ear. It let's you move your jaw up and down and side to side, so you can talkk, chew, and yawn.

So what problems can develop?

The problems range from -
  • A clicking jaw every time it is opened
  • lack of opening and movement
  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • headaches and pain around teeth and muscles
  • Grinding or clenching your teeth, which puts a lot of pressure on the joint
  • Arthritis in the joint
  • Stress, which can cause you to tighten facial and jaw muscles or clench the teeth

Why does it cause pain?
When it does not function properly, the TMJ can cause discomfort and severe pain. It can be temporary or last many years. It might affect one or both sides of your face. More women than men have it, and it’s most common among people between the ages of 20 and 40.


Common symptoms include:

  • Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew, speak, or open your mouth wide
  • Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
  • Jaws that get “stuck” or “lock” in the open-or closed-mouth position
  • Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful
  • A tired feeling in your face
  • Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite - as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
Pain may result from an uneven bite. As the jaws close they may not meet all of the teeth together which causes the jaw to slide which may also place the jaw out of alignment. A similar analogy being shoes with two different heel heights. In a short time the hips may start causing pain, or the lower back may cause pain or there may be pain in the legs due to the uneven alignment.

How do you know if you have a TMJ problem?

A simple home test that shows in approximately two thirds of people if there is a jaw joint problem, is to have 3 fingers straight and locked together then open your mouth as wide as possible and try to put the 3 fingers vertically between the top front teeth and bottom front teeth up to the second joint. If you are unable to comfortably do this then there is a definite problem with the jaw joint.

So what can be done if you suffer from this?

One of the most common cause of headaches is clenching or grinding, or as we like to call it “Bruxism”. As the teeth are misaligned and the bite is not even, a person can start grinding at night to eliminate the uneven bite. As a result the associated muscles go into overload and fatigue, often giving rise to headaches often in conjunction with pain in the lower jaw around the teeth. One method is to prevent the teeth from grinding, by either placing a barrier to grinding orproviding an even surface to close against. Using a bite splint at night does not allow the teeth to bite together so grinding is eliminated and usually after 1-2 weeks the headaches stop. If this is successful then a person can continue to wear a bite splint or elect to have the teeth aligned to achieve that even bite. If this does not help, then more advanced therapies may be needed such as Dysport (botox); a steroid wash of the jaw joint and very occasionally surgery. In the majority of cases, straightening the teeth to improve the bite is what gives the best long term results.

An upper anterior bite splint worn at night


A lower anterior bite splint worn at night

issue12 Dysport

More than just irresistible smiles at


Dysport® is a protein taken from the bacteria Clostridium Botulinum. The protein was initially used for the treatment of motor disorders and various kinds of muscular spasms, including Cerebral Palsy. It was further developed to treat a wide variety of Neuro-muscular disorders, for which it is now licensed in 60 countries. In New Zealand, Dysport® has registration approval under the Medicines Act and was the first Botulinum Toxin Type A to be approved in this country.




Many people with Bruxism will wear a mouth guard at night to protect their teeth, but some patients clench and grind during the day, wearing the guard during waking hours is not always practical. Dysport® is a great non invasive alternative for Bruxism. With this procedure, you will be able to chew normally and make facial expressions, but the involuntary grinding will be reduced or eliminated.


Dysport® for Bruxism can also soften the appearance of the jaw line by reducing the size of the masseter muscle. Often patients who clench at night will have a more pronounced square jaw line. Dysport® causes the muscle to decrease in size, therefore slimming and contouring the jaw.
Dysport can also be used to reduce frown lines between your eyes and crows feet, and for the upper lip muscle to show less gum when you smile. Treatment takes less than 20 minutes and results can be seen within the first week.Dysport® is used to provide relief from headaches, jaw soreness and other side effects of Bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching) . Dysport® is placed into the masseter muscle (the main muscle for biting and chewing) . The muscle is temporarily weakened which prevents the muscle from clenching involuntarily while you sleep. This greatly reduces the painful side effects of Bruxism while saving your teeth.
Book Dysport   

To Book your initial consultation with Dr Ana Turner, call us on (09) 478 7442


Welcome To The Team

We would like to welcome our new Dentist Cameron Roling and our new Dental Therapist & Hygienst Olga Movtchan to the team at North Shore Dental.

New Team Members

Cameron has been working in private practice in Auckland for nearly four years, and is delighted to join the team at North Shore Dental.  He enjoys all aspects of dentistry, and is dedicated to providing high quality, aesthetic solutions for his patients. In particular, he enjoys cosmetic dentistry, as well as having an interest in endodontics (root canals), oral surgery and prosthodontics (dentures and plates). Cameron is working with us on a Saturday and will be covering Kellie’s maternity leave as she is expecting her 2nd child in August. Olga is originally from Russia where she graduated as a dentist. She moved to New Zealand 15 years ago and in 1999 graduated AUT with a degree in Dental Hygiene and Dental Therapy. She will be working alongside Dr Mike Black

Kids! How Well Do You Know Your Teeth?

issue12 girl
1. How many teeth do adults have? 
A. 32 
B. 52 
C. 25 

2 . Why do some kids wear braces on their teeth?
A. To chew food better
B. To keep their teeth from falling out
C. To straighten their teeth

3. How many teeth do chickens have?
A. Two
B. Twenty
C. None

4. What are the your first teeth called?
A. Permanent teeth
B. Baby teeth
C. Wisdom teeth

5. What is a cavity?
A. A piece of dirt on your tooth B. A hole in your tooth that causes it to go bad
C. A bad tooth that needs to be removed
6. What is the part of the tooth that you see in your mouth?
A. Root
B. Crown
C. Pulp

 7. What type of snack is the best for keeping your teeth healthy?
A. A sugarless snack like popcorn
B. A cold snack like ice cream
C. A chewy snack like a candy bar

8. How often should you brush your teeth?
A. Whenever you feel like it
B. Once a week
C. Two times a day

9. What are the biggest teeth called?
A. Biters
B. Tearers
C. Molars

10. A dentist uses which one of these tools?
A. Hammer
B. Mirror
C. Screwdriver Kids! How Well Do You Know Your Teeth?

quiz answers