The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) at either side of your jaw make it possible to open and close your mouth. When these joints become inflamed, it can cause a condition called TMJ disorder. Symptoms of TMJ disorder can range from pain or tenderness in the jaw to facial pain and headaches. At Smiles for Life in Bridgewater, VA, Drs. Joe McIntyre and Dan Whiting offer TMJ treatment to help manage the disorder and prevent the development of additional symptoms.
Causes of TMJ
TMJ disorder often occurs due to the upper and lower jaws failing to meet properly. As a result, the joints must overcompensate in order to achieve a comfortable bite. Over time, this can place significant strain on the jaw joints. TMJ disorder can also occur due to:
- Chronic inflammatory arthritis
- Jaw trauma
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
TMJ disorder is more common in women than in men.
Symptoms of TMJ
Since TMJ disorder is a blanket term for a variety of conditions, there are many symptoms that could indicate an issue with your TMJs, such as:
- Pain or tenderness in the face, jaw, or neck
- Ear pain or cracking sounds in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Pain, swelling, or a lump in the temple area
- Ringing or popping sounds in the ears
- Pain that feels like a toothache
- Painful popping, grating, or clicking in the jaw joint
- Difficulty chewing
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Shoulder pain
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Muscle spasms in the jaw
If you have persistent or severe tooth pain, you should contact our office right away.
At Smiles for Life, we can assess your medical history and symptoms. During your appointment, Dr. McIntyre or Dr. Whiting can examine your jaw, including the range of motion and any signs of incorrect movement. We can also take a series of scans and x-rays to reveal problems with the joint or jawbone. Depending on the results of this examination, your dentist can design a treatment plan to address TMJ issues and alleviate your symptoms.
For many patients, TMJ disorder can be resolved through self-care techniques. Some home remedies we recommend include:
- Applying ice or cold packs
- Eating soft foods that do not require extensive chewing
- Minimizing extreme jaw movements, such as wide yawning, loud singing, or gum chewing
- Gentle stretching of jaw and neck muscles
- Practicing relaxation and stress management techniques
Additionally, over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories are often helpful in reducing pain and discomfort associated with TMJ disorder. For other patients, treatment of an underlying cause may be necessary. In some cases, a misalignment can be corrected using Invisalign® or a dental crown to reduce stress on your TMJs.
If your symptoms persist, your dentist can provide you with a custom mouth guard to wear while you sleep. The oral appliance gently moves your jaw into alignment and can prevent any grinding or clenching from worsening your symptoms.
Alleviate Pain and Discomfort
The symptoms of TMJ disorder can be persistent and painful. At Smiles for Life, we understand the importance of treating this condition before it affects your quality of life. Contact us online or call us at (540) 828-2312 today to learn more about our TMJ treatment options.