TMJ is the initialism for temporomandibular joint, which connects your lower jaw (the mandible) to your skull at the temporal bone. This joint controls many jaw functions, like chewing. If the chewing muscles or the joint itself are causing you pain you may have temporamandibular disorder, or TMD. TMD can be caused by stress, continual clenching of the jaw muscles, or teeth grinding.
Some of the symptoms of TMD are:
- Pain when opening or closing mouth
- Trouble chewing
- Jaw becoming stuck open or shut
- Headaches or ear pain
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening your mouth
- Teeth Grinding
Many of these symptoms can often be associated with other health problems, so only a medical professional can tell you if it is due to TMD. Teeth grinding is an especially problematic symptom because it can lead to further problems. Prolonged teeth grinding, or bruxism, can cause enamel to wear off teeth and expose dentin. This material is softer than enamel and more susceptible to decay. Sensitivity to hot and cold food or drink may also develop from excessive teeth grinding.
If you suspect you may have TMD come in for a consultation. We can help diagnose you and provide relief for your symptoms. Pain relievers and hot/cold compresses are short term methods to provide relief for pain symptoms. A night guard can be used to help prevent or lessen the effects of teeth grinding at night. This can lead to a more permanent solution. In very severe cases of TMD surgery may be required, but behavioral treatments to change the way you use your jaw muscles are usually enough to provide relief.
Many people are afflicted with bruxism, or teeth grinding. Some people may do this consciously during the day, but it is a larger problem at night while you are asleep. Grinding your teeth can damage enamel, wear down teeth, cause jaw pain, or irritate your gums. The noise from teeth grinding can also disturb your spouse's sleep if loud enough.
If you grind your teeth you should consider a night guard. The night guard, which is very similar to a mouth guard worn by athletes, provides a barrier between your top and bottom teeth while you sleep. All night guards are custom fitted for comfort and to allow for proper breathing. Your dentist will take an impression of your teeth and have the night guard created by a dental lab. Night guards are very durable and can be used for up to 10 years.
There are also some things that you can do to try to stop teeth grinding. You can train your jaw to be free and easy rather than clenched. Refrain from chewing gum or on other objects like pens. You should also avoid alcoholic drinks and drinks with caffeine, as these can increase the likelihood you will grind your teeth. If you suspect you might be grinding your teeth at night set up an appointment with us today.
Do you wake in the morning with sore jaws?
When you bite, do you feel like your jaw is lopsided? If so, then you may need an occlusal adjustment.
An occlusal adjustment corrects the alignment of the bite, that is a result of loose, shifting, crowded, or missing teeth. The result is an evenly distributed bite that eliminates irregular pressure on one side of the mouth. Once your bite is adjusted, your teeth will meet properly. Occlusal adjustment causes minimal pain, and only a little discomfort. The adjustment is made by using a dental drill using a fine filing stone. In addition to the actual adjustment, removal mouthpieces are also utilized, to protect the tooth surface, and relax the jaw muscles once the adjustment is completed.
Who is a good candidate for an occlusal adjustment? Patients with loose or shifting teeth will many times not meet correctly. Patients, who grind or clench their teeth, will have an uneven bite and pressure distribution in the mouth, which is also corrected through an occlusal adjustment. Sometimes tooth sensitivity can be corrected through an occlusal adjustment as the treatment reduces pressure on the sensitive tooth.
New technology allows dentists to accurately identify the areas, which need adjustments. The dentist utilizes a computer scan of the mouth, which records hundreds of bite registrations per minute, and notes even the slightest irregularity. That data allows the dentist to make only the adjustments that are absolutely necessary, which ensures a well aligned bite and minimal tooth wear.