Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder is characterized by pain and dysfunction of the jaw joint and associated muscles. The syndrome can be characterized by pain, clicking or popping of the jaw, limited jaw opening, headaches, and pain with chewing. In some cases, the TMJ can cause a person’s bite to become misaligned, resulting in tooth wear, broken teeth, and tooth loss.
The exact cause of TMJ disorder is unknown, but several factors can contribute to its development. These include stress, grinding your teeth at night, arthritis, trauma to the face, poor posture, and genetics. At Deep Ellum Advanced Dentistry, our dentist, Dr. Wing, can diagnose TMJ disorder through a thorough examination. If our dentist in Dallas suspects that you have TMJ disorder, he will refer you to a specialist for further testing.
The Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
- Jaw pain or tenderness in the face, neck, or shoulders
- Popping or clicking sounds when opening and closing the mouth
- Locking of the jaw while eating or speaking
- Difficulty chewing
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
- Ringing in the ears
TMJ Treatment Options
Self-Care and Lifestyle Modifications
The journey towards TMJ relief often begins with self-care practices. Simple measures, such as avoiding excessive jaw movements, chewing gum, or consuming hard foods can alleviate strain on the joint. Applying hot or cold compresses to the affected area provides a soothing effect and reduces inflammation. Managing stress through relaxation techniques like deep breathing, meditation, or yoga helps prevent teeth grinding and clenching that can exacerbate TMJ disorder symptoms.
Physical therapy offers tailored exercises to enhance jaw mobility and strengthen the surrounding muscles. These exercises work towards restoring a harmonious range of motion while reducing muscle tension and discomfort. In addition, manual therapy techniques, including gentle massage and manipulation, provide hands-on relief by releasing tension and improving joint flexibility.
Medications can provide temporary relief from TMJ-related pain and muscle spasms. Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen offer immediate comfort, while prescribed muscle relaxants work to alleviate muscle tension in the jaw area.
Dental treatments address the alignment and function of the jaw. Orthodontic correction of dental misalignments can improve the bite, lessening the strain on the TMJ. Dental appliances, such as custom-fitted night guards or bite splints, serve as protective shields against teeth grinding and clenching, both during sleep and throughout the day. These appliances not only prevent further damage but also promote proper jaw positioning.
In severe cases, surgical options may be considered. Arthrocentesis, a minimally invasive joint flushing procedure, can reduce inflammation and discomfort. TMJ surgery in Dallas is typically a last resort, reserved for cases where conservative treatments have not yielded sufficient relief.
Get in touch with Deep Ellum Advanced Dentistry at 3112 Main St., Dallas, TX 75226, or call (214) 466-6610 to determine the best treatment plan tailored to your specific needs. Remember that addressing TMJ disorders can lead to improved quality of life, reduced pain, and a restored sense of comfort in your jaw and beyond.