Does your jaw feel sore in the morning? Do you experience jaw clicking or popping?
When the Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is out of normal position or if the teeth don’t make proper contact, instability can occur in your jaw and mouth. This often leads to pressure and pain in the neck, face, or mouth. Occlusal therapy and TMJ treatment are methods of restoring balance to eliminate stress and bring the masticatory system back into harmony.
The dentists of Bethesda Dental Implant Center are experienced in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders and Myofascial Pain Syndrome. When necessary, advanced technology including the i-CAT cone beam imaging system is utilized to take 3-D scans of the head, jaws, and mouth. These scans provide additional information which allows your dentist to better identify and diagnose potential problems.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which are the joints that connect the upper and lower jaws. TMJ is also widely used to describe a complex group of disorders that are characterized by pain and limited mobility in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) and surrounding tissue.
When people say “I have TMJ”, they usually mean that they are suffering from a jaw disorder. Your temporomandibular joints are a system made up of your muscles, ligaments, and jaw bone. They make it possible to open and close your mouth and work in tandem when you chew, speak, or swallow. The TMJ operates the lower jaw- your mandible- as it moves forward, backward, and side to side.
Each TMJ has a disc of squishy cartilage between the ball and the socket of the joint. The sponge-like material supports the load of your jaw while also enabling it to open wide and rotate or glide. Any problem that hinders this system of muscles, ligaments, discs, and bones from working together properly is called a TMJ disorder. Dr. Eskow can diagnose and treat this jaw problem to alleviate the discomfort from and stop the progression of, dental issues that TMJ disorders can trigger.
Signs & Symptoms of A TMJ Disorder
Patients with TMJ Disorders (TMD) often exhibit signs and symptoms very different from one another, which makes diagnosing TMD a challenge. Some of the more common signs of TMJ dysfunction are:
- Popping, clicking, or grating of the jaw (TMJ joint)
- “Locked” jaw and/or limited mobility in the jaw joint
- Frequent headaches
- Difficulty when eating or chewing
- Chronic earaches without an ear infection
- Muscle tenderness or soreness and/or tiredness in the face and/or jaws
TMJ Treatment Options in Bethesda, MD
There is no one-size-fits-all solution in dentistry, particularly when it comes to TMJ treatment. Each problem is unique to the individual patient and treatment planning is entirely dependent on the diagnosis. Our goal is to treat TMD with the most conservative procedure possible.
For minor cases, there are several methods of treatment for TMJ disorders. Below are simple home remedies you can use before moving on to more advanced treatment with a physician or dentist. These steps follow a “less is more” approach in treating TMJ disorders:
- Eating softer foods
- Avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails
- Applying heat packs to the pain
- Practicing relaxation techniques to alleviate tension in the jaw, including meditation or biofeedback.
- Modifying parafunctional habits
If your symptoms are more severe, the following therapies for TMJ may include:
- Oral appliance therapy (such as a nightguard)
- Dental splints
- Occlusal equilibration, making changes to the fit of the bite by reshaping and/or removing tooth structure
What could be causing my jaw to pop?
Patients who have suffered a jaw injury, or who grind or clench their teeth may experience popping or clicking in their jaw. Bruxism (teeth grinding) is a habit that offers occurs subconsciously or while a patient is sleeping. Repetitive grinding or clenching of the jaw can damage the joint and irritate the muscles causing the jaw to pop when opening or closing.
How can I prevent my jaw from popping?
There is no standard solution for treating TMJ or jaw popping. A thorough bite analysis can help your Bethesda Dental Implant Center dentist build a treatment plan that will address any underlying functional issues.
Request A TMJ Disorder Evaluation Today
If you are concerned that you may have a bite problem or TMJ disorder, schedule a consultation with one of our periodontists in Bethesda, MD. We will perform a thorough evaluation of your overall dental health, bite, facial muscles, and jaw position and movements. Then a consultation will be held to outline TMJ treatment options.