Your mouth is an important feature of your body and consists of several components that allow it to do its essential functions. One of these components is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). This joint is the connection point between your lower jaw and your skull. It provides for the movement of your jaw – opening, closing and moving it side to side. When the joint becomes irritated, all of the functions your mouth performs are affected. Eating becomes a challenge. Speaking is painful. At National Dental Melville, we can help to treat the causes of your TMJ pain and restore your quality of life.
Is Jaw Pain Interfering with Your Life?
Pain and inflammation of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) can greatly interfere with the functions of your mouth, and your quality of life. Issues with your TMJ (often called TMJ disorder or TMD) can be caused by any number of different things:
- Grinding and clenching your teeth. This condition is also called bruxism. Bruxism often occurs while you sleep, when you have no control over your muscles. When your muscles contract, it places excessive strain on your teeth, your jaw, and the TMJ.
- Trauma to the facial region. Trauma can be caused by direct impact to your face (auto accidents, falls, sports-related injuries) or by indirect methods. For instance, if you are in an auto accident and you experience whiplash, your jaw may be momentarily dislocated. This action can lead to TMJ irritation.
- Your teeth and jaw are misaligned.
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis).
- Sleep apnea.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
There are several symptoms that can indicate an issue with your TMJ. There are some symptoms, however, that you may not think could be related to the jaw, which can often lead you to seek medical treatment instead of dental treatment, which can then lead to misdiagnosis. Symptoms include:
- Facial and jaw pain.
- Experiencing pain or difficulty eating and speaking
- Hearing a clicking, popping or grinding sound when you move your jaw.
- Your jaw may lock open or shut.
- Chronic headaches or earaches.
Diagnosing the Cause of Your Pain
Before treatment can be provided, we first need to diagnose the cause of your TMJ pain. This requires an oral exam. We will take a look inside your mouth, checking your teeth for alignment issues. We will also take a look at the alignment of your jaw. Your exam will also include digital imaging, which will allow us to see the hidden structures inside your mouth so that we have a complete picture.
What Treatments Are Available?
Once we know the cause of your TMJ pain, we can administer treatment. There are several treatments available. Your specific treatment will depend on the cause of your issues:
- Prescription pain medications or muscle relaxers.
- Botox. Botox injections are commonly associated with cosmetic procedures to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Strategically injecting Botox will relax the muscles of your jaw, lessening the force they exert and preventing bruxism.
- Night guard. A night guard is a custom fit oral device that is worn while you sleep. It is designed to cushion your teeth and jaw from the forces exerted upon them when you grind and clench. It absorbs the impact, helping to relieve the pressure on your jaw and alleviate your pain.
- Orthodontic treatment. If your teeth and jaw are misaligned, orthodontic treatment can straighten them.
- Surgery. Surgical treatments are reserved for when no other TMJ treatments prove effective.
You don’t have to live with chronic jaw pain. Call National Dental Melville today at (631) 816-2277 and schedule your consultation.