Jaw pain, soreness and headaches caused by malfunction of the temporomandibular joint, also known as TMJ, are more common than you may think. Millions of Americans experience difficulty eating and speaking due to TMJ disorder, and some even experience effects that are harmful to their oral health and overall health.
Portland dentist Dr. Julie Spaniel understands just how debilitating the effects of TMJ disorder can be. She is highly trained and experienced in using advanced evaluation techniques and diagnostic equipment to detect TMJ disorder. If she determines you have TMJ disorder, she can recommend a course of treatment that best relieves your pain and restores your wellbeing.
Causes and Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The TMJ is the joint that connect your jaw to your lower skull. TMJ disorder is caused by chronic stress on the TMJ. Common causes of TMJ disorder include:
- Bruxism (teeth grinding or clenching)
- A misaligned bite
- Previous dental work
- Trauma or injury to the teeth or jaw
- Inflammation caused by illness (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis)
TMJ disorder can produce an array of symptoms. One of the most common is pain, soreness or tenderness around the TMJ, especially when opening the mouth. Excessive tooth wear caused by bruxism is another common symptom. Chronic teeth grinding or clenching of the jaw while sleeping can also cause you to experience headaches, especially first thing in the morning. Other symptoms include clicking or popping noises when opening the jaw, or the jaw locking in place.
If left untreated, TMJ disorder can interfere with daily life. TMJ pain can limit the range of motion of the mouth, making it difficult to chew and speak properly. Excessive tooth wear can open the door to an array of serious dental issues. And because the jaw muscles and joints are connected to those in your neck and back, it is not uncommon for some individuals with TMJ disorder to experience neck and back pain, which can lead to posture problems.
Treating TMJ Disorder
The good news is that there are several treatment options available to alleviate TMJ symptoms. Because no two patients are alike, Dr. Spaniel tailors each treatment plan based on each individual’s unique needs and specifications. Upon evaluating your symptoms, cause and severity of your pain, Dr. Spaniel can determine the treatment that best suits your needs.
Treatment options include over-the-counter medications and muscle relaxants to help soothe pain and soreness. Stress-relieving techniques to ease the tension in the jaw muscles and joint are also recommended to relax the jaw muscles and joint.
In addition to these, Dr. Spaniel may recommend you wear an oral appliance when sleeping. Oral appliances such as an oral splint or night guard keep the teeth in proper alignment and prevent the top and bottom teeth arches from grinding against each other. While oral appliances are available over the counter, Dr. Spaniel can use an impression of your teeth to create a night guard or splint that fits perfectly into your mouth. For TMJ pain caused by misalignment issues, Dr. Spaniel may recommend orthodontic treatment.
Learn More about TMD Treatment
If you suspect your pain or symptoms are a result of TMJ disorder, schedule a consultation with Dr. Spaniel. After discussing your symptoms with you, Dr. Spaniel can work with you to find a treatment option that alleviates your pain. Contact Summerwood Family Dental by calling or sending us an email today.