TMJ, TMD, and Chronic Jaw Pain

July 19, 2019 0

Have you lost the pleasure of eating because your jaw hurts too much to open up wide? Sedation and Implant Dentistry Irvine can help. For over 42 years, we have helped hundreds of southern California residents get back to eating the foods they love by addressing the symptoms and the causes of their TMD.

What is TMD and TMJ?

TMD (Temporomandibular Disorder) refers to problems with the jaw and the muscles in your face that control it. TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) is the hinge that connects your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull.

TMD often results in pain that limits your ability to open your jaw wide enough to function properly. It can cause ringing in the ears, and popping or clicking sounds in the jaw. TMD can result in chronic headaches, tinnitus (ringing of the ear), earaches and pain in the back, neck, or upper shoulders.

Common Causes of TMD

Stress causes tension in the body. This tension causes some people to clench or grind their teeth. Some people may do it during sleep, during strenuous exercise or in heavy traffic. When clenching becomes excessive and habitual, it puts a lot of pressure on the temporalmandibular joint. When that happens the muscles surrounding the joint go into spasm, and this causes the pain you feel, often in the jaw and facial area.

Misaligned Jaw
When your teeth don’t line up the way they should, (bad bite) it causes an imbalance in the jaw and facial skeleton. This imbalance moves the jaw into a strained position, which can cause pain in the jaw as well as the neck, shoulders and back.

Acute Injuries
A serious blow to the jaw can cause TMD. Whiplash from an accident or any other injury to the muscles of your neck and head can also lead to TMD. These traumas can cause the cartilage disc (which acts as the cushion in the ball and socket joint of your jaw) to tear or pull away. This may result in popping or clicking sounds in the joint, as well as pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

Osteoarthritis or Synovitis
Osteoarthritis is known as the “wear and tear” arthritis. When it occurs in the temporomandibular joint, it means the joint’s cartilage (cushioning) has been lost, resulting in the change of the bone’s shape. Synovitis refers to the swelling inside the jaw joint. Both may cause strain on the muscles surrounding the jaw and result in pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

Treatment Options

At Sedation and Implant Dentistry Irvine in Orange County, our neuromuscular therapy experts understand the complex relationships of the bones, muscles, joints and nerves in your face and neck. With our state-of-the-art 3D CT Scan and examination of your face and jaw, combined with your description of your symptoms, we can begin the process of diagnosing the cause of your TMD and treating it.

Treatment may include:

  • Applying moist heat to the painful areas
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Appliance therapy
  • Bite adjustment
  • Pain modification
  • Resting the joint
  • Biofeedback or relaxation training (to help manage stress)
  • A mouth guard (to help protect your teeth from grinding and clenching)
  • Anti-inflammatory, non-steroidal drugs (ibuprofen or aspirin)
  • Orthodontics (braces)
  • Removable overlay partials (permanent orthotics that fit over the back teeth)
  • Stabilizing and re-aligning your bite with a temporary orthotic device
  • Coronoplasty (the smoothing and reshaping of your enamel)
  • Reconstruction (making the teeth higher by using crowns)

To correctly diagnose the cause of your TMD, we need to take a 3D CT Scan. You can count on our Irvine dentists to take the time to help determine the cause and the best treatment plan for your TMD.

Imagine waking up in the morning without pain in your jaw, neck, or shoulders. That is the freedom we want for you, the freedom to live life without the pain of TMD.

If you think you may have TMD or if you are experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above, give us a call at (949) 424-5137 to schedule an appointment.

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