TMJ Can be a Pain—But We Can Help!
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joints. These are the hinges that connect your jaw to the temporal bones of your skull, which are positioned in front of your ears. Put simply, these joints allow jaw movement so you can do things like eat, speak and yawn. However, pain can result if the joints are not functioning smoothly. Dr. Hall can work with you to evaluate your symptoms and create a personalized treatment plan.
TMJ related disorders can have an impact on your daily quality of life and are often the underlying cause of a range of symptoms including recurring headaches, jaw pain, neck pain, and upper body muscle tension. Treating a bite problem can resolve these symptoms and improve your overall dental health and wellness.
Diagnosing the Problem
Patients are frequently referred to us by local ENTs because ear pain is often related to TMJ issues. To determine the cause of any pain you might be having, and whether it can be attributed to TMJ, we will check your jaw joints for discomfort or tenderness and find out if the joints are working properly. We’ll listen for popping or grating sounds when you move your jaw, test your bite and see if you are having any issues with your facial muscles.
TMJ issues are not the same for everyone, but they can often be treated conservatively. Dr. Hall will look for signs of teeth grinding such as worn or flat teeth and damaged teeth. Teeth grinding often accompanies a TMJ disorder. She will also evaluate the function of your jaw joints when biting down, looking for signs of instability or dysfunction. Once a diagnosis is made, our dental care team will help to resolve the problems you’re experiencing by tailoring a solution to your particular condition. Recommendations might include eating soft foods, applying ice packs to sore areas, moderate jaw exercises and medications such as ibuprofen to relieve pain and swelling.
Treatment for TMJ in Williamsburg
Dr. Hall can use a range of dental treatments to address a TMJ disorder. Your personal treatment plan will be dependent upon your symptoms, any damage to the occlusal system and possible structural concerns. Tooth position and jaw structure abnormalities can set the stage for TMJ problems. The goal of your treatment plan is to address the underlying cause and establish a stable and healthy oral foundation.
Treatment options can include:
- Mouthguards: also known as a night guard, a custom mouthguard can be made to prevent teeth grinding and enable the jaw joints to rest in a natural. relaxed position.
- Restorative dentistry: also called bite equilibration, using restorative treatments to change how the teeth make contact when biting can improve jaw function and alleviate discomfort.
- Orthodontics: if malocclusion is impacting your bite, orthodontics may be recommended to reposition teeth and stabilize the bite.
- Oral surgery: in more complex cases, we may recommend coordinating care with a local oral surgeon who can address structural problems with the jaw.
TMJ Treatment FAQs
What happens if you let TMJ go untreated?
If you leave TMJ untreated it can cause serious muscle pain and tension. It can also lead to anxiety and depression. TMJ pain can also cause migraines and tension headaches.
What makes TMJ pain worse?
If you have TMJ the worst thing you can do is hold your head forward all day. Working from behind a computer is an example of this. While in positions with your head stretched and up your facial and neck muscles are working extremely hard to make up for any lack of strength due to your TMJ. Poor posture, diet, and bad sleeping habits can also make TMJ worse.
How do you calm a TMJ flare up?
The best way to relieve a TMJ flare up is to apply ice to the area that is being most affected. Ice will reduce swelling and numb the area. Patients should stick to soft foods if their TMJ is flaring up. There are also stretches that can be done to loosen facial muscles, lessening the pain caused by the TMJ flare up.
When should I be concerned about my TMJ?
We recommend patients schedule a dentist appointment if their TMJ causes chronic jaw pain or tenderness. We also recommend seeking dental help if TMJ restricts you from opening and closing your jaw. If you are experiencing any of these, call our office for an evaluation.
How long will TMJ last?
Most TMJ flare ups last anywhere from a couple of days to a few weeks. Chronic TMJ symptoms may be constant and may also include sharp pain. This may last months or even years.
Can TMJ heal naturally?
TMJ can cure itself naturally. However, it may take a while. You can restrict your diet to soft foods, and massage your jaw daily to help alleviate the symptoms. This will help restore muscular tissue and relieve TMJ symptoms naturally over time.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
TMJ has become the commonly used term for a bite disorder. The symptoms of TMJ include facial pain, popping of the jaw, headaches or migraines, earaches, teeth grinding and issues with jaw mobility. You might find that you have trouble chewing, or feel that your upper and lower teeth are not coming together as they should. You could even feel tenderness around your neck and shoulders, or around your ear when you eat or open your mouth wide.