Your mouth is made up of numerous components that allow it to perform its many essential functions, from eating to speaking to breathing and more. The temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which is the point at which your lower jaw connects to your skull, provides for the movement of your mouth – opening, closing, moving the lower jaw from side to side. When your TMJ becomes irritated, all of the functions of your mouth become a challenge and can cause you a significant amount of pain. At National Dental Sunnyside, we can help to diagnose the cause of your TMJ pain and provide you with treatment to help restore the quality of your life.
DOES YOUR JAW CAUSE YOU PAIN?
When your TMJ is irritated and inflamed (often referred to as TMJ disorder or TMD), the pain can greatly interfere with your quality of life. TMJ disorder covers a broad number of different issues:
- Bruxism, or the grinding and clenching of your teeth. While grinding and clenching can occur anytime if usually occurs while you sleep, when you have no control over the muscles. Your muscles contract, which puts excessive pressure on your teeth, your jaw, and the joint.
- Facial trauma. Trauma can be caused by direct impact to your face, such as an auto accident or sports injury. It can also be caused by the temporary dislocation of your jaw from whiplash.
- Your teeth and jaw are misaligned.
- Osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.
- Sleep apnea.
TMJ DISORDER SYMPTOMS
There are several symptoms that can point toward an issue with your TMJ. Some of these symptoms can often be mistaken for other issues, which can lead you to seek medical, instead of dental, treatment. Symptoms include:
- Pain in your jaw and face.
- You may have trouble speaking and eating. It can also be painful to do these things.
- Clicking, popping or grinding when you move your mouth.
- You may experience chronic headaches and earaches.
HOW TMJ DISORDER IS DIAGNOSED
Diagnosing the cause of your TMJ pain requires a thorough dental exam. We will inspect the inside of your mouth, looking for alignment issues with your teeth. Your jaw will also be examined for alignment problems. We will check your teeth for signs of excessive wear, which can indicate bruxism. Along with a visual exam, we will also take digital images, which will allow us to see everything happening under the gum line.
TREATMENTS FOR TMJ PAIN
Your exact treatment will depend on the cause of your TMJ pain. There are several different types of treatments available:
- Prescriptions strength pain medication or muscle relaxers.
- Botox injections. Botox is usually associated with cosmetic procedures to reduce facial wrinkles. It can also be used to relax the muscles in jaw, helping to reduce the effects of bruxism.
- Nightguard. A custom fit nightguard, which is similar to a sports mouthguard, is an oral device that is worn while you sleep. It provides a cushion for your teeth when you clench, absorbing the impact and helping to alleviate the pain caused by bruxism.
- Orthodontics. If your teeth and jaw are misaligned, orthodontic treatment can bring everything back into proper alignment, effectively eliminating your TMJ pain.
- Surgery. Surgical procedures are reserved for when no other TMJ treatments prove effective.
You do not have to live with chronic jaw pain interfering with your daily life. Call National Dental Sunnyside today at (718) 925-3365 to schedule your appointment.