What is TMJ? You have probably heard people refer to TMJ as a jaw condition. Many people think TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (or Disorder). In actuality, everyone has TMJs, and we use them every time we speak, chew, or yawn. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jaw to your skull and are found on both sides of the head at the base of the skull. TMD is what actually stands for Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction.
If you are experiencing pain in your TMJ or even a TMJ disorder, it can be very difficult to live comfortably day to day. At West Grande Prairie Dental, our team of dentists can help diagnose TMJ pain and symptoms and discuss TMJ treatment options to help you get back to living pain-free.
What Is TMJ Pain?
Pain in your TMJ may be felt in your jaw and radiate through your neck, face, and head. It may be difficult to determine the cause of the TMJ pain. Genetics, a jaw injury, or arthritis can be common causes of TMJ pain. Grinding or clenching your teeth during the day or unknowingly at night may also result in TMJ pain.
If you are experiencing chronic TMJ pain, you may have a temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD)
A temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) can be diagnosed by a doctor or dentist after discussing your symptoms and examining your jaw. Common symptoms of TMD may include:
- Pain in the jaw, face, or ear area
- Difficulty chewing or pain while chewing
- Clicking, popping, or locking of the jaw when opening or closing the mouth
- Aching facial pain or headaches
If you are experiencing a limited range of movement in your jaw or have persistent pain or tenderness, talk to your dentist here in our office. Our dedicated providers at West Grande Prairie Dental will be able to give you a complete examination and discuss possible causes and TMJ treatments.
TMD Treatment Options
If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ pain or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder), our dentists can help to diagnose and treat your pain. In some cases, symptoms of TMD may resolve without treatment. However, if your pain is persistent, your dentist may consider treatment.
Standard treatment options include:
- Bite splints and dental night guards
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain medications
- Relaxation techniques
Another treatment, although rare, is surgery that is sometimes needed to correct certain kinds of TMJ problems.
Bite Splints and Dental Night Guards
Your dentist may recommend a TMJ bite splint to help treat your TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). A splint is a removable oral device that covers some or all of your teeth. These devices are meant to help relieve pain and improve jaw function. It may also be used as part of a longer, multi-step procedure intended to correct jaw or bite placement. Dental night guards protect against clenching and grinding of the teeth while you sleep.
The use of Botox may temporarily relieve pain and discomfort in your jaw related to TMJ pain or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). Botox injections will not correct the underlying cause of TMD, but Botox injections can successfully relieve the pain and discomfort associated with TMD.
Physical therapy may ease TMD/TMJ pain, regain jaw mobility, and lessen daily stress on your jaw. Exercises to stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles can help relieve TMJ/TMD pain. Heat and ice packs may also be used to help with the pain.
Over-the-Counter Pain Medications
Over-the-counter medication may reduce the pain and swelling you may be experiencing. Talk to your dentist if these medications aren’t enough to relieve your pain.
Relaxation techniques may be able to reduce muscle tension in your jaw. Without realizing it, stress can cause you to clench your jaw, which can cause muscle tension and pain. By consciously relaxing your jaw and practicing deep breathing, you may find the muscle tension in your jaw relaxes over time.
Although uncommon, surgery may sometimes be required to correct certain types of TMJ/TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder) pain. It’s best to discuss your options and the potential benefits and risks with your dentist. You may be referred to a specialist or an oral surgeon.
Find Relief for Your TMJ Pain With West Grande Prairie Dental!
Severe jaw pain can affect your quality of life. If you believe you are experiencing TMJ/TMD symptoms or have persistent pain or discomfort in your jaw, we may be able to help!
The earlier you treat the problem, the sooner you’ll get back to feeling normal and pain-free. Call or request a FREE TMJ/TMD Consultation online with us today! Our dentists can help you find the right treatment to relieve your TMJ pain.
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