May 9, 2016
Jaw pain, popping sounds when you chew, headaches, lockjaw – all signs that something’s going wrong with your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. The TMJ is the joint where your jaw hinges on your skull, and when things start going wrong with it you can end up in serious pain.
As complicated as the causes and symptoms are it’s surprisingly easy to treat TMJ pain. It goes untreated for many patients, though, because it’s not usually considered a critical problem. Over time TMJ disorders, or TMD, will show their effects on your body and your oral health.
What Causes TMD?
The causes of this painful condition are numerous, and it can be hard to pin down a specific cause despite the pain that results from it. We run plenty of tests at our Virginia Beach office when we’re diagnosing TMJ pain, all with the aim to determine why it’s happening.
The most common causes of TMD are:
- Bruxism, or the grinding, gnashing, and clenching of your teeth and jaw. This often happens at night, making it hard to diagnose and confusing for the patient suffering from it.
- Malocclusion, or a badly aligned bite. If you grow up with teeth that don’t line up straight they end up pulling your jaw into an unnatural position, leading to strain on muscles and the TMJ.
- Arthritis can affect any joint in the body, and that includes the TMJ. It can also be aggravated by a slip of the cartilage disc that cushions the joint.
- Prior injuries in the jaw have a tendency to cause problems later on, especially if there was a bone fracture.
- Missing teeth can cause your jaw to sit unevenly, putting excess strain on the joint and muscles.
No matter the cause it’s important to get your TMD treated early. The pain won’t go away – in fact, it will probably get worse as you age and the joint becomes more worn and irritated.
The Long Term Effects Of TMD
Aside from the constant pain, TMD sufferers have several problems to look forward to if they don’t get treated.
- Bruxism, the most common cause, causes premature wear in your teeth that leaves you more vulnerable to cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.
- Malocclusion, missing teeth, or any other problem that causes the jaw to sit unevenly will cause continued muscle strain in your neck, face, and even back. Your posture will suffer, you’ll experience more widespread referred pain, and your quality of life will decrease.
- TMD sufferers can experience pinched or irritated nerves in the face and neck, causing numbness and tingling in various parts of the body. This can be one of the most frightening symptoms – a loss of feeling is serous!
- Headaches can progress from an ache in the temples to full-blown migraines, and do for many TMD patients. Early treatment can stop things from ever progressing to this point.
How We Stop TMJ Pain In Its Tracks
The most common and effective form of TMJ pain relief is surprisingly simple: it’s a mouth splint worn during the night while you sleep. We craft our oral appliances from impressions of your teeth and design them with your unique face shape in mind.
Our TMD appliances will hold your jaw in a comfortable, natural position while you sleep, giving your muscles a chance to relax and recharge for the day ahead. You’ll wake up feeling recharged and rested, not in pain and fatigued!
People suffering from bruxism find relief from our oral appliances as well. It’s impossible to stop bruxism since it’s an unconscious habit, but the nightguards we craft are made of a soft, wear-resistant material that will cushion your teeth and jaw while you sleep. Even if you’re grinding your teeth you won’t do any damage or cause any pain!
TMJ Pain Relief: Simple, Effective, And Smile Saving!
Treatment for your TMD can be simple, especially if you take care of it now. A simple piece of soft plastic could be all that’s standing between you and a restful, comfortable night of sleep – how great would that be?
We want to keep your teeth healthy for life, and that means stopping TMJ pain from ruining your days, your nights, and your smile. Find relief fast by calling the office of Dr. J. Wesley Anderson, DDS.