Your jaw hurts — again.
All you did was eat a bagel and drink some coffee. And yet … it feels like you lost a round of boxing.
If this kind of thing is happening regularly, it could be a signal that you are suffering from a TMJ disorder. It’s not pleasant, and it can interfere with your life in a variety of ways.
Fortunately, there are solutions for this problem, and we may have just the right fix for you at A Perfect Smile in Falmouth, ME. Call (207) 536-3508 today to schedule an appointment.
Keep reading to learn more about the causes, symptoms, and treatments for TMJ problems.
Why TMJ Disorders Develop
We wish we could tell that this is simple. The truth is your situation might be simple, but TMJ disorder themselves can happen for a variety of reasons.
To understand why they are so problematic, put your fingers on either side of your face just below your ears. Now, open and close your mouth. The thing you feel moving is your temporomandibular joint or TMJ.
These joints allow you to open and close your mouth. A problem with one or both of them could cause problems with your jaw, your facial muscles, and more.
You may develop TMJ problems as a result of a traumatic injury to your face or head. You might have arthritis (since they are joints) or an infection. You also could have an alignment issue with your teeth or jaw.
One of the more common causes is teeth grinding, also known as bruxism. According to health surveys, roughly 1 in every 12 or 13 people grinds their teeth in their sleep. It’s also worth noting that stress makes many people more likely clench or grind their teeth.
Your TMJ could be the result of any of these factors or a combination of two or more.
What to Watch for
We have already shown that TMJ disorders can have a variety of causes. Well, they can cause a variety of symptoms as well.
Pay attention to whether you are having any of these symptoms:
- Frequent headaches (including migraines) or earaches
- Jaw soreness
- Jaw stiffness or trouble opening and close your mouth
- Ringing in the ears
- Facial pain or tenderness
- Pain in your neck or shoulders
- Dizziness or vision problems
- Painful popping or clicking when you open or close your mouth
If these problems occur frequently when you wake up, that may be a sign that you are grinding your teeth together in your sleep.
Several patients have spoken to us about the ways their symptoms interfere with their everyday activities. Some people will avoid lunch with their coworkers since they don’t want to wince or try to hide the pain they are feeling. Parents have told us they couldn’t enjoy time with their kids because their headaches made the noise too much to bear.
Most people will experience TMJ problems from time to time. In many instances, you can treat these problems on your own.
Pain relievers can alleviate the pain. Ice or cold packs can numb the pain and reduce swelling. Moist heat can help to loosen up stiff, sore joints. Some people find that eating soft foods for a few days alleviates the problems as well.
You should seek help if you suspect you may be developing a chronic condition in which your symptoms keep coming back or don’t go away in spite of your home treatment efforts.
If you visit us, we can examine your teeth for signs of grinding, including wear and tear on the enamel of your teeth. We also can assess the alignment of your teeth and jaw.
A Holistic Treatment
If we do find that you are grinding your teeth together, we will do everything that we can to help.
The first step is stopping you from grinding your teeth.
The immediate solution is placing a barrier between your top and bottom teeth. We do this by making custom-made oral appliances for patients to wear when they go to bed in the evening.
This will prevent your rows of teeth from touching one another, so they can’t cause more wear and tear.
These appliances also serve another equally important purpose. They can correct imbalances that may be contributing to your TMJ problems. By adjusting the resting position of your jaw, you can reduce the stress and strain on the joint as well as the surrounding muscle tissue.
It may take a little time to adjust to sleeping with what is like a mouthguard in your mouth. When you do, you are likely to notice fewer TMJ symptoms, such as fewer headaches and less frequent jaw pain.
Dr. Robert Nelson started A Perfect Smile in 2001. He’d dreamed of becoming a dentist since he was a young boy. His mother was a nurse, and his father was an engineer. Dentistry combined an interest in healthcare with his interest in working with his hands.
Dr. Nelson and the rest of our team hate when any patient is in pain, whether that’s because of an injury, a toothache, or a problem with their TMJ.
He has taken thousands of hours of continuing education to stay up on the latest technique for treating a wide range of dental issue. He’s also committed to a patient-first approach, which makes your comfort a priority anytime you visit us.
Stop Living with the Pain
We don’t want anyone to suffer, and you should not feel like you just have to live with the pain. TMJ disorders are not problems that will go away on their own. If anything, they will continue to get worse unless you take steps to do something about it.
You should call (207) 536-3508 or contact our team at A Perfect Smile today if you have any concerns that you may have a TMJ disorder. Dr. Nelson would be happy to examine your mouth and jaw. If you are showing the effects of teeth grinding, we’ll work with you to design an oral appliance so you can wake up without the pain.