Are you experiencing pain in your jaw? Difficulty chewing? Restricted jaw movement? If you answered yes to at least 1 of these questions, you may have a TMJ disorder.
Don’t panic — TMJ pain is treatable. Here, we’ll go over the best ways to get rid of your pain for good.
What is TMJ?
TMJ refers to your temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint is the connection between your skull and lower jawbone, which helps you open and close your mouth as well as move it from side to side. When this joint is not working properly, it can cause pain in the jaw, face, head, ears, and neck.
Causes of TMJ disorder
TMJ issues are associated with teeth grinding (also known as bruxism) — which can lead to soreness, inflammation, and teeth damage over time. This condition is often caused by stress or airway issues such as sleep apnea. But TMJ pain can be caused by other factors as well, including:
- Overuse of the jaw muscles
- Trauma (like an accident or sports injury)
- Congenital malformations
Do you have TMJ disorder?
Some common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Pain in the jaw: The most common symptom of a problem with your TMJ. The pain can be felt on either side of your face and may radiate to other parts of your body.
- Pain in the ears: TMJ disorder often causes earache, which can be debilitating for some people.
- Neck pain: If you have TMJ concerns, you may experience neck pain that radiates down into your shoulders and arms. For some, this can cause difficulty with swallowing.
- Shoulder pain: TMJ disorder also affects surrounding joints like those found in the shoulders.
- Teeth grinding: One of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder is teeth grinding, which can damage your teeth. It can also cause you to develop headaches or jaw pain.
- Tooth sensitivity: In addition to all of these symptoms, patients with TMJ disorder can develop tooth sensitivity.
TMJ disorder can be very uncomfortable, but it’s also treatable. If you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ disorder, book an appointment with one of our dentists right away!
How can you treat TMJ pain?
If your TMJ pain is caused by bruxism, your dentist can create a mouthguard that will prevent you from grinding your teeth. This will protect your teeth from damage, alleviate the pain, and let your jaw recover its function.
The best mouthguards are custom made to fit your mouth perfectly and provide the best protection. Store-bought guards are usually cheaper, but most of them are too bulky or don’t fit properly, which makes them ineffective.
If you grind your teeth and want to prevent damage, then it’s best to see a dentist. Your dentist can make a custom-fitted mouthguard that will protect your teeth from grinding and also help relieve pain caused by TMJ. If you are in Massapequa, one of our experienced dentists at Greater Long Island Dental can help! Call (516) 798-4223.
A physical therapist can help you reduce pain, increase the range of motion of your jaw and improve your posture. They will teach you exercises to help you improve the way your jaw moves, restoring the natural movement of your jaw and decreasing your pain.
A physical therapist can:
- Assess your jaw’s movement in order to determine what muscles need to be strengthened or stretched
- Work on strengthening exercises to keep muscles strong and flexible
- Give you manual guidance so that you learn how to move your jaw correctly
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS)
Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation (TENS) is a non-invasive way to reduce pain. TENS involves wearing a small device that sends electrical impulses through the skin and nerves to help reduce pain and inflammation.
While it can’t cure TMJ disorder, TENS can provide temporary relief from symptoms while you wait for more permanent treatments such as a mouthguard or surgery to take effect.
The surgery for TMJ disorder is called arthroscopy and involves positioning the TMJ properly and eliminating any underlying problem with the joint.
When it comes to TMJ treatments, this is the last resort. If you’ve tried other treatments without results, your dentist may recommend that you get surgery.
The surgery is done under general anesthesia, which means that you will be asleep during the procedure. Your oral surgeon will make small incisions in your mouth and then insert a tiny camera called an endoscope. This will allow them to see inside your jaw, determine where the problem is located, and resolve the issue.
Fixing TMJ pain takes time, but there’s always a solution
If you think you have TMJ disorder, the best that you can do is talk to your dentist. Your dentist can work with you to appropriately diagnose your condition and come up with a treatment plan that helps you get rid of TMJ pain forever.
It might take a little time, but once you get started on this journey toward eliminating TMJ pain, you’ll be glad that you did it.
Looking for a dentist in Massapequa who specializes in TMJ disorder? At Greater Long Island Dental, we are happy to help you live without pain. Call us at (516) 798-4223 or book an appointment online.