Discover TMJ Disorder
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is a small connective joint between your skull and jawbone on each side of your head that works as a hinge to help your mouth open or close. When you feel pain in your jaw, head, ears, or muscles that control your jaw’s movement, it can be a sign of a TMJ disorder (TMD).
In many cases, it’s hard to determine the sole root of your TMJ disorder and the cause of it could actually be a combination of factors. Some sufferers of TMD may be at a higher risk because of genetics, arthritis, or jaw injury, but others who clench their jaw or grind their teeth may also experience TMJ pain as well.
Indications of TMJ disorder include:
- Sore jaw
- Chronic headaches
- Cracking teeth
- Excessive wear on your teeth
- Ear pain
- Difficulty chewing
- Locking of the joint
Relief with Oral Appliances
Here at Cool Springs Laser Dentistry, Dr. Rice offers several options to help relieve your TMD and reduce the effects of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. If you have trouble with any jaw joints or bones, you do not have to tolerate the pain.
We can provide you with a customized oral splint or mouth guard that helps you live a healthier life without pain in your mouth, jaw, head, or ears. An occlusal appliance is a small, comfortable mouth guard that’s conveniently worn at night to reposition your jaw and prevent you from grinding or clenching at night.
Dr. Rice may also suggest different types of medications such as pain relievers, anti-inflammatories, or muscle relaxants, as well as physical therapy exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles.
FAQs About TMD and Bruxism
I think I grind my teeth at night, what damage can that cause?
While you may think clenching and grinding are natural and your teeth are strong enough to bear it, the reality is that your jaw is a very strong joint and applies a great deal of pressure on your teeth. Grinding and clenching not only wear down the surface of your teeth but can actually cause cracking and lead to tooth loss.
Can I just use a mouth guard to protect my teeth?
Mouth guards are great for protecting your teeth during sports or other activities but when you sleep with a loose mouth guard, it can cause more trouble than it helps. We often prescribe an occlusal guard for clenching. The occlusal guard clicks onto your teeth and cushions the bite, mitigating the TMJ and wear issues.
Will I need to have surgery for my TMJ disorder?
Although there have been many advancements in treating TMJ disorder without having to perform complex surgery, some cases may not benefit from alternative methods of relief and surgery may be the best option.
How long is TMD treatment?
Most patients notice relief shortly after they’ve begun using a TMD splint or occlusal appliance. However, each patient is different and the severity of their disorder or bruxism may determine how long their course of treatment will be.