Many individuals experience pain or discomfort in their temporomandibular joint, also known as your TMJ. Issues concerning your TMJ are most likely TMJ disorder or dysfunction, commonly referred to as TMD.
What exactly is my TMJ?
Your temporomandibular joint is a joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It allows you to open and close your mouth and move it from left to right.
Why is my TMJ causing me pain?
There are several reasons why your TMJ causes you pain. Stress is the number one factor. Other triggers include arthritis, injuries, bone structure and genetics.
Many individuals are more prone to TMJ issues or TMD because of genetics. While TMD is common among both men and women, research has shown women are more likely to be diagnosed with TMD.
Like any joint, your TMD can become worn down and not function like it used to. This is commonly due to a certain kind of arthritis known as osteoarthritis and is mostly seen among older patients. Gout or rheumatoid arthritis can also be at play.
When individuals are stressed they often unknowingly tighten the muscles in their face, putting pressure on their TMJ. Carrying stress in your jaw can also trigger you to grind or clench your teeth.
Clenching or Grinding
Some people clench or grind their teeth throughout the day. It can become such a habit that it might go virtually unnoticed. You may even be clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep without knowing it.
A range of injuries such as a dislocated jaw can cause TMD. Research has shown that hard and sudden blows to your TMJ can also lead to TMD.
How can I relieve the pain caused by TMD?
There are several noninvasive and cutting-edge treatments to help alleviate pain or discomfort associated with TMD.
Changing your diet to consist of mostly soft foods can potentially help decrease TMD related pain or discomfort.
While each patient is unique and experiences different levels of pain, we may suggest a hot/cold treatment plan.
We may recommend an over the counter medication or prescribe you a medication to help with your TMD.
While some physical therapy exercises can help alleviate pain or discomfort associated with TMD, you should speak to one of our team members prior to beginning any therapy.
A night guard is generally worn at night and creates a barrier between your top and bottom teeth to keep them from clenching or grinding. Depending on the individual, some patients are advised to wear their mouth guard during the day as well.
Missing, damaged, or crooked teeth may be triggering pain or discomfort associated with TMD. If this is the case, we may place braces, dental implants, crowns, or partial dentures to help alleviate some of the pain you’re experiencing.
Dr. Becvar and his staff at Dental By Nature work only with the top TMD specialists in Longmont, Mead, Niwot, Hygiene and other nearby communities.
How do I know if I have TMD?
The best way to determine if you have TMD is to be seen by Dr. Becvar or one of his staff members. We will assess your situation to see if TMD or another dental issue is at play and make a treatment plan accordingly. The symptoms below are commonly associated with TMD:
- Difficulty or pain while opening your mouth widely
- Feeling tired in your face
- Sensitivity or pain in your teeth, jaw joint area, neck, face, ears, head and/or shoulders
- Difficulty or pain while chewing
- Getting jaws stuck closed or open
- Swelling on either or both sides of your face
- Difficulty speaking
While these may be signs of other issues besides TMD, we encourage you to make an appointment if you experience one or more of these symptoms.
Regardless if you experience any of the symptoms above, at your routine dental examination we will check for any signs of TMD. This may include additional X-ray images, MRI tests, and CT scans to further diagnose the issue.
After 22 years, Dr. Becvar and his team at Dental By Nature are easily able to detect and treat TMD. With us, you don’t have to suffer from TMD any longer.
If you would like to request more information or schedule an appointment to have your TMJ examined, call us today at (303) 776-6021.