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7 Reasons You Should See Your Dentist for TMJ Pain Treatment
7 Reasons You Should See Your Dentist for TMJ Pain Treatment
If you’re suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), you know how painful it can be. There’s no reason to suffer in silence. Here are 7 compelling reasons why you need to visit your dentist for TMJ pain treatment.
Keyword(s): tmj pain treatment
When you open your mouth to speak, or swallow food, you don’t think about your temporomandibular joint, do you? Most people don’t unless there’s a problem.
The temporomandibular joint is known as the TMJ. It connects your jaw with your skull. This joint allows you to open and close your mouth. It lets you push your jaw forward, back, and sideways so you can chew and speak.
The fact that these joints move in many directions makes them complex. If you have problems with these joints it’s known as a TMJ disorder or TMJ.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
If there are problems with the muscles or joints in your jaw or face, it can result in a TMJ disorder. It’s hard to know for sure if you have a TMJ disorder because many of the symptoms are present for other problems. Your dentist can help you get the right diagnosis.
Let’s take a look at the signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders.
7 Reasons to Seek TMJ Pain Treatment
Following are the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder. If you’re experiencing any of these, contact your dentist for TMJ pain treatment.
1. Pain in the jaw, face or ears
2. Migraine-like headaches
3. Pain and pressure behind your eyes
4. Clicking or popping sounds when the mouth opens and closes
5. Jaw that locks in place or feels out of joint
6. Jaw muscles that feel tender or sore
7. Swollen face
Your TMJ may be the result of something obvious, like an injury or clenching your teeth. Yet, sometimes the cause is less clear. TMJ can happen due to misaligned teeth, or arthritis.
The reason for your TMJ disorder determines the treatment method.
How to Treat TMJ
TMJ can be part of a facial muscle problem, pain in the jaw joint, or an issue with the actual joint. Most problems, both muscular or within the joint, improve over time. That’s why it’s best to try a conservative treatment first.
Tips for Fast Relief at Home
Most TMJ disorders are temporary. People usually get better with home treatments. Symptoms can disappear without any treatment. The pain can return without notice, too.
Since most people with a TMJ disorder get better with home remedies. Most dentists suggest a combination of the following treatments for best results.
Follow a Soft Food Diet
Following these guidelines lets your jaw rest and heal.
- Eat soft foods that don’t need lots of chewing
- Avoid hard and crunchy foods
- Cut food into small pieces
- Stay away from food that makes you open your mouth wide
Most people are pain-free after two or three weeks on a soft food diet. Others may need to eat soft food for a longer period of time.
Moist Heat, Exercise, and Ice Pack Routine
Some people get relief from a combination of moist heat followed by exercise and ice packs. Apply the heat to the side of your face and temple for ten minutes. This should relax any tight muscles.
Next, do a few stretching exercises. Put your left thumb under your upper front teeth. Put your right index and middle fingers on top of your lower front teeth. Pull the jaw apart with your hands in a gentle motion. Don’t use your jaw muscles.
Finish the routine with an ice pack applied to the side of your face for five minutes. Try to complete the routine several times each day. Physical therapy often helps patients with TMJ disorders.
There are several medicines that can help. Over-the-count options like NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) relieve muscle pain and swelling.
If you clench your teeth or grind your jaw, you may need a muscle relaxant. This requires a prescription. A doctor may prescribe Anti-anxiety prescription meds for a short time.
If you grind or clench your teeth a splint may take the pressure off your joints and muscles. Splints fit over the teeth. They prevent the upper and lower teeth from meeting. If your dentist suggests a splint you wear it for a prescribed amount of time each day or night.
If a splint makes your pain worse, stop using it and contact your doctor.
Tips for Pain Relief
Try these suggestions to resolve pain and discomfort.
- Avoid extreme movements like singing or yelling
- Don’t chew gum or ice
- Try not to yawn
- Keep your teeth apart
- Sleep on your back rather than your stomach
- Don’t rest your chin on your hand
- Don’t hold the phone between your shoulder and ear
- Try to reduce your stress level
Stay aware of ways you may trigger jaw pain so you can avoid them.
Treatment Choices for Serious TMJ Cases
There are lots of options for TMJ disorder treatments. If your situation doesn’t respond to basic treatment, you may need more help. In some cases, doctors prescribe surgery or other procedures, such as injections. Here are a few examples of advanced treatment.
Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS)
TENS therapy uses low-level electrical currents. The currents relax the jaw joint and facial muscles. Treatment takes place in a dental office or at home.
An ultrasound treatment uses deep heat applied to a sore or stiff joint. It’s often combined with physical therapy.
The dentist injects pain medicine or an anesthetic into tender facial muscles. While the pain medicine is working the patient exercises the jaw muscles to stretch them.
Some people find acupuncture relieves pain caused by TMJ disorders.
Most doctors and patients consider surgery only after all other treatments fail. If pain and functionality problems persist, you may need surgery to cure the disorder.
In other cases, surgery is the first choice. People with a degenerative disease or injury due to an accident may need surgery. Less conservative treatments won’t be effective.
Always get a second option before scheduling surgery. While it’s most often successful, it’s important to understand both risks and benefits.
Contact Your Dentist for Help with TMJ
If you ever have jaw pain or trouble opening your mouth, don’t hesitate to contact our office. Temporomandibular joint anatomy is intricate. No one knows it better than the pros at Forest Park Dental. We can diagnose your TMJ disorder and recommend TMJ pain treatment.
If you need a dentist near St Louis, Central West End, Clayton or Des Peres, we’re nearby. We offer quality service at an affordable price. Contact Forest Park Dental for your dental needs.