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TMJ Disorder: What’s Causing Your Jaw Pain?

You TMJ (temporomandibular joint) and it’s the hinged joint that connects your mandible (lower jaw) to your skull. This hard-working joint is responsible for all of the motions that your mouth performs each day. Including up and down and side to side movements.

TMJ disorder – usually referred to as TMD or TMJD – occurs when you have pain in or around your joint, and your TMJ isn’t performing properly.

What Are The Signs That You Have TMJ Disorder?

 You may have TMJ disorder if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Facial pain that worsens when you eat or talk
  • Tenderness of the joint and muscles around it
  • Feeling a dull ache to sharp stabbing pain on the sides of your face
  • You’re limited to how wide you can open your mouth
  • When you open your mouth, you hear clicking or popping noises
  • Earaches
  • Tension headaches or waking up with a migraine in the morning
  • Lockjaw
  • Your teeth are worn, sharp, or jagged

Causes of TMJ Disorder

If you have any of the warning signs and suspect TMJ disorder, it could be caused by several things. Some of the most common include an injury to your jaw, misalignment of your teeth or an overbite/underbite, arthritis, the foods you eat, and grinding or clenching your teeth (a habit known as bruxism.)

Mesa, AZ Treatments for TMJ Disorder

There are several ways to treat TMJ disorder. The course to do so will depend on the cause of your condition.

Some common treatment options include methods like:

Joint Rehabilitation and Physical Therapy

Eating hard foods like carrots, tough meat like steak, or chewing gum regularly can cause stress on the jaw joint. The best place to start is to avoid eating foods that are chewy, crunchy, hard, and sticky, or anything that requires that you open your mouth wide. Allowing the jaw to rest will give the joint time to heal on its own.

In addition, you can massage the area to loosen the muscles. Applying warm, moist heat or a cold compress is great to reduce pain and inflammation. If you have lockjaw, you can do special exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles and improve range of motion.

Taking Medication

Medications to treat TMJ disorder is more commonly used in people who have the occasional flare-up. For example, during stressful times you may unknowingly clench their teeth, which causes you to have a TMJ episode.

In this case, our dentist may advice you take an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug), or a muscle relaxer to reduce inflammation and free up the stiff joint. These medications are also a viable treatment option for people who have arthritis in the joint.

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Wearing an Occlusal Guard

If clenching and/or grinding becomes a constant occurrence, then your teeth will show signs of being jagged, worn, or sharp. If this is the case, then our Mesa dentist may choose to take a more preventative course of treatment for your condition.

Typically, we would make you a custom nightguard to wear while you sleep. Also known as an occlusal guard or bite splint, this acrylic device fits over your teeth and separates your upper and lower arches while putting your lower jaw in a rested position (which prevents you from grinding, clenching, and damaging your teeth any further.)

Getting Braces and Updating Restorations

Teeth that are in malocclusion (not aligned properly) can lead to jaw issues. In this case, our dentist may recommend that you go through orthodontic treatment to align them. Properly lined up teeth can perform at a more efficient level, so that teeth aren’t overused or your TMJ isn’t straining to do its job.

When TMJ disorder is caused by misaligned teeth, and they’ve worn over time, then Dr. Huynh may recommend restoring your damaged teeth so that they function more effectively.

In conjunction with braces, we may recommend dental crowns. A crown is a cover made to look like a natural tooth. It’s cemented over your tooth and protects it from being damaged.

Surgical Correction

If your TMJ disorder was caused by physical trauma to the joint or if there are bone spurs, adhesions, or even tumors around it, then you may need jaw surgery to fix the source of the problem.

Getting Help With TMJ in Mesa, AZ

If you’re experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, call Eastport Dental to see our Mesa, AZ dentist.

Together we’ll discover what’s causing your TMJ pain and come up with a solution to get you treated properly so that it doesn’t keep coming back. Book your free consultation today!

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