The temporomandibular joint is the delicate joint that connects the upper and lower jaw to the skull. The health of the temporomandibular joint is essential for helping you chew and speak comfortably. Damage or misuse of the joint can create a range of painful symptoms referred to as TMD, or Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
Patients may experience TMD for different reasons. An injury to the joint, bruxism, or stress can all induce discomfort in the face and jaw. For many patients teeth grinding or jaw clenching can put added pressure on the joint causing damage or muscle tension that triggers chronic pain symptoms, headaches, and discomfort.
TMD can lead to chronic, sometimes debilitating pain in the face, neck, shoulders, and upper back without prompt treatment. Early and precise diagnosis of the underlying cause of jaw pain or issues is imperative for effective treatment. Claremont Dental Institute provides comprehensive TMJ Therapy.
“When it comes to TMJ treatment, the importance of early treatment cannot be overstated. The condition can advance in stages and get progressively worse. Successful treatment results can be the end to the cycle of pain.”
—Dr. Steve Fountain
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
Do you know if you have TMJ? If you ever wake up with headaches, experience chronic facial pain, or have tension in your face or jaw, you may have a TMJ disorder. However, do not assume that you have it without seeking a diagnosis from our dentist or specialist. Other signs that you have a TMJ disorder include:
- Pain on both sides of the face
- Difficulty chewing or opening mouth wide
- Clicking sounds when opening mouth or moving jaws
- Limited range of motion in your jaw
Patients with TMJ often complain of upper back, neck, and shoulder pain, popping or clicking of the jaw, or numbness in the face. TMJ pain is difficult to subside with over-the-counter medications and requires proper diagnosis and treatment for relief.
Be sure to tell our Claremont Dental Institute dentist if you experience the symptoms of TMJ. Early diagnosis and treatment can prevent secondary dental health concerns from developing.
TMJ Treatment in Claremont, CA
Claremont Dental Institute uses state-of-the-art diagnostic software to determine the underlying functional cause of TMD-related pain. Our dentist will thoroughly analyze the alignment and health of your teeth and jaw.
Treatment for TMJ will vary and depends on the patient’s habits, lifestyle, overall oral health, and preferences.
For many patients with TMJ, an oral appliance worn during sleep helps to relieve jaw pain. Patients who grind their teeth while sleeping often find relief from their discomfort after only a few nights of wearing their oral appliance. Our dental office will custom-fabricate the oral appliance so that it fits comfortably and snugly in your mouth.
The oral device prevents the upper and lower jaw from grinding together, allowing the system of muscles and tendons to relax while you rest. Over time, the jaw joint and muscles begin to heal.
Repair The Damage from TMJ Issues
Patients may require additional restorative procedures to fully rebuild their smiles. Patients who have lived with TMJ for prolonged amounts of time may have excessively worn, chipped, or missing teeth. Our dentists can provide you with porcelain veneers, dental crowns, or other cosmetic restorations to the repair damage on your teeth.
Crooked teeth can also cause bite misalignment putting stress on the jaw joint. Our dental care team can provide you with Invisalign, orthodontics, or a combination of cosmetic dentistry treatments to properly align your jaw and bite.
At-home Treatment Options
Our dentist will make personalized recommendations based on your lifestyle and unique needs on how to manage stress and improve your oral wellness. Exercise, meditation, and other stress management techniques can temporarily reduce inflammation and the habit of jaw clenching.
First, try to give your jaw a rest. Stay away from excessive jaw movements like chewing gum, yawning too wide, and taking too big of a bite out of food. Also be mindful of your jaw position. Paying attention to how you hold your jaw throughout the day can help with this. Try to keep your teeth slightly apart and your lips gently closed.
If you are feeling tension in your jaw, give yourself a little massage on those muscles to relieve tension. For example, use your fingertips and gently move them in circular motions. Start right in front of your earlobe and work your way down to your chin.
For deep jaw muscle pain, try warm and cold therapy! Apply something cold to the side of your face where the pain is to help reduce swelling. On the other hand, apply a warm compress to relieve muscle tension. Additionally, you can buy pain relief products like Icy Hot® or ibuprofen. Just make sure that you follow the instructions and don’t go overboard with them.
Lastly, work on your stress relief techniques. Meditate and do things that make you happy! Stress and tension can make TMJ pain worse.
TMJ Disorder FAQs
Would you like to learn more about temporomandibular joint disorders? Read the following questions and answers to continue learning about how we can help you manage your symptoms.
Is a headache a warning sign of a TMJ disorder?
TMJ disorder is the result of strain on your jaw joints. This strain can lead to a number of uncomfortable symptoms, including headaches, but also soreness in the jaw or face, a popping or crackling sensation in the jaw, or aches in the neck or shoulders. If you think one or more of these possible warning signs sound familiar, then consider seeing us for a consultation.
Can a dentist address my TMJ disorder?
Yes, a dentist can address your TMJ disorder, however make sure they have the right credentials and training. Our dentists can recommend an oral appliance, which is similar to a night guard and worn while you sleep. The device helps reposition the jaw, addressing the strain. However, depending on the cause we can also address your TMJ issue with orthodontics, restorations, or missing tooth replacement procedures.
Is the disorder related to bruxism?
In some cases, untreated TMJ disorder can lead to bruxism (chronic teeth grinding). In addition, untreated bruxism can also strain the jaw joints, leading to TMJ disorders. Both of these issues are often related. Fortunately, an oral appliance can also help prevent further damage from teeth grinding episodes. If you have any questions about our treatments for bruxism and TMJ, then please contact our office today.