There’s nothing quite like the pain associated with the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ as many people refer to it. Unfortunately, your TMJ can develop a serious disorder known as temporomandibular disorder or TMD that can be quite painful. TMD is actually a disorder that your dentist can help you treat. Our dentists at Old Milton Dental can help you diagnose and treat your TMJ pain so you can finally feel a sense of relief. Learn more about TMJ and TMD and the different treatment options available at our Alpharetta dentist office.
What is TMD?
Temporomandibular disorder, or TMD, is a disorder that affects your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. TMD and TMJ are used interchangeably in the dental world so if you hear your dentist refer to TMD as TMJ, just assume they mean TMD and vice versa. When your TMJ becomes misaligned, it can cause a multitude of problems in your mouth that may leave you with debilitating pain. While some patients may only experience pain temporarily, other patients may experience constant pain that remains until a treatment can be completed. TMD typically occurs in people between the ages of 20 through 40 but it’s not unheard of for it to occur in other age groups. Statistics also show that women are more affected by TMD than men. If you suspect that you have TMJ, don’t hesitate to get diagnosed.
Symptoms of TMD
TMD will most likely cause you some sort of discomfort or pain in your jaw. The pain may only be temporary or potentially last for several years. It may also affect only one side of your face, or perhaps both. There are a few symptoms of TMJ to look out for.
- Tenderness or pain in your face
- Pain in jaw joint area, shoulders, neck, in or around ears when you speak, chew or open your mouth wide
- Lockjaw when opening or closing your mouth
- Popping, clicking or grating sounds when you open or close your mouth
- Your face feels tired
- Uncomfortable bite or trouble chewing
- Swelling in the side of your face
- Frequent headaches
- Neck aches
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Upper shoulder pain
- Hearing problems
Causes of TMJ Pain
There are a few different causes of TMJ pain. To start, the most common cause of TMJ is clenching or grinding your teeth. This is also known as bruxism. This tends to put a lot of pressure on your joints and if you do it every day or every night, your jaw will become inflamed.
Another leading cause of TMJ is stress. Stress can cause TMJ pain because it causes you to tighten your jaw and facial muscles while also making you clench your teeth.
TMJ pain can also be caused by arthritis. It also can be caused by a thrown off bite either because you need braces or because you need restorative work done on your teeth.
Whatever the cause of your TMJ pain is, our Alpharetta TMJ dentist will help you identify what is causing you pain and giving you the best treatment option.
If you suspect that you might have a TMJ disorder, your first course of action should be getting a diagnosis. During your exam, our dentist will ask you a series of questions. In addition, our dentist will also check your joints to see if there is any pain or tenderness. They will also listen for any clicking or grating sounds when you open or close your mouth. These sounds can indicate a problem in the mascular structure. If your condition is not diagnosed yet, we will also take x-rays and potentially an MRI if necessary to diagnose it. Our number one goal is to give you the diagnosis we need to give you a proper treatment plan that relieves you of pain.
Treatment Options for TMJ/TMD
There are a number of different treatment options we can recommend to help relieve you of your TMJ pain.
Eat Soft Foods
Take out hard, crunchy food from your diet and stick with soft foods like yogurt, oatmeal, soup, scrambled eggs, and cooked fruits and vegetables. This will give your jaw a break and potentially relieve you of pain.
Use Heat or Cold Packs
Hold an ice pack to the side of your face for 10 minutes, stretch your jaw a bit and then apply a warm washcloth over your face for five minutes. Repeat this several times a day for best results.
Other Behavior Changes
Other ways you can relieve your pain include avoiding extreme jaw movements like chewing on gum or ice and yawning. Also, avoid singing, yelling or anything that forces you to open your mouth wide. Also, be sure that you don’t rest your chin on your hand or hold your phone with your shoulder. Throughout the day, also make an effort to keep your teeth apart from one another.
Wear a Night Guard or Splints
If you are prone to clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep, our dentist will give you a custom-made night guard to wear at night. If you tend to clench or grind during the day, we will give you a splint to wear at all times.
Another treatment for TMJ is dental work. This can include bridges, crowns or braces if your teeth need to be straightened and realigned. This will help correct your bite and relieve you of pain.
Trigger Point Injections
This is where pain medication, anesthesia, or BOTOX are injected into your trigger points to give you relief.
Surgery for TMJ
As a last resort, surgery can also be done to relieve you of TMJ pain. There are several different surgeries that can be done that your dentist will go over with you should you need one of them.
Find TMJ Pain Relief from Our Alpharetta Dentist Office
If you suffer from TMJ pain, stop suffering. Give our dentist office in Alpharetta a call to be diagnosed with TMJ and to find the treatment option that works best for you. We can also be reached via our online form.