The longest word you’re probably going to see short of Mary Poppins and that whole “superfragilistic…” thing is temporomandibular. The temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. To talk, chew, or simply yawn the joint has to function correctly. When it doesn’t you have a temporomandibular disorder (TMJ or TMD). The basic TMJ problem is with the jaw and the muscles that connect it.
TMJ symptoms can be relatively minor or they can be so severe it can debilitate you. That’s why we’re TMJ experts at Gentle Dental, because we want to help our patients solve this condition that can be difficult to diagnose.
Many more people suffer from TMJ than know it. Sometimes the patient thinks the jaw pain is simply a toothache. Other times, TMJ pain is wrongly diagnosed as pain radiating from an ear infection. Other times, the search is for typical causes of headaches.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
Though direct symptoms and causes can be difficult to pinpoint, these are some of the common symptoms associated with TMJ:
- Pain in the face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, or around the ears when you use your jaw
- Clicking or popping sounds when you open or close your mouth or chew
- Problems when you attempt to open your mouth wide
- Jaws that lock or get stuck
- Trouble chewing or an uncomfortable bite, combined with the feeling that your jaws are misaligned
- A tired feeling on your face
- Swelling on the side of your face
Other symptoms can be headaches, toothaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, shoulder pain, and hearing issues.
Our TMJ treatments at Gentle Dental
- Using a bite splint — We create a custom-fit bite splint that is placed over the upper or lower teeth to make them slide smoothly against each other rather than clenching.
- Physical therapy — We use methods such as biofeedback to help you overcome your muscle clenching.
- Ultrasound energy — Deep heat through ultrasound energy is applied to the joint.
- Radio wave energy — Radio waves are used to stimulate the joint.
- Laser therapy — Laser energy can lower pain and inflammation, allowing with enabling greater range of motion.
- Medication — Anti-inflammatory medications can reduce pain and inflammation. Muscle relaxers and anti-anxiety medications may also be used.
- Botox — This famous wrinkle reducer works by paralyzing the muscles that are causing the muscle clenching.