Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD, sometimes referred to as TMJ). These disorders occur as a result of problems associated with the temporomandibular joint, which is the hinge joint on each side of your head in front of your ears that connects the lower jawbone to your skull.
Possible causes of the disorder are:
- Injury to the jaw, the joint or muscles of the head and neck, such as from a heavy blow or whiplash
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
- Dislocation of the ball and socket
- Arthritis in the TMJ
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
- Jaws that get "stuck" or "locked" 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
- Swelling on the side of your face
Treatment Options for TMD/TMJ:
Your dentist can prescribe higher doses of anti-inflammatories if you need them for pain and swelling. He might suggest a muscle relaxer to relax your jaw if you grind or clench your teeth. Or an anti-anxiety medication to relieve stress, which may bring on TMD. In low doses, they can also help reduce or control pain.
A splint or night guard
These plastic mouthpieces fit over your upper and/or lower teeth so they don’t touch. They lessen the effects of clenching or grinding and correct your bite by putting your teeth in a more correct position. What’s the difference between them? You wear night guards while you sleep. You use a splint all the time. Your dentist will tell you which type you need.
Your dentist can replace missing teeth and use crowns, bridges or braces to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth or to correct a bite problem.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
This therapy uses low-level electrical currents to provide pain relief by relaxing your jaw joint and facial muscles. It can be done at the dentist's office or at home.
Talk to your dentist about these treatments for TMD and which are right for you. Schedule a consultation at Harrisonburg SmileMakers; call us at 540-432-9036.