Jaw pain can be unbearable. It can make it hard for you to sleep, leaving you tossing and turning in pain throughout the night. By morning, you wonder if you got any sleep at all. A lack of sleep, especially when due to pain and discomfort, makes it hard for you to concentrate at work and tests your patience. Your relationships are strained, and you feel like your TMJ disorder is ruining your life.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Your dentist can diagnose your situation and help you with a treatment plan that can get you back on the path to a better night’s sleep and a more productive and satisfying day.
What are the symptoms of a TMJ disorder?
If you have a sore jaw, you likely wonder if you have TMJ disorder. TMJ refers to your temporomandibular joint. The TMJ is a hinge that connects your jaw with the temporal bones of your skull. Your TMJ lets you move your jaw in various directions so you can talk, chew, and yawn. And though we don’t know exactly what causes TMD, or TMJ disorder—and we’ll discuss that a bit more later—it is believed that symptoms arise from problems with your jaw muscles or with the parts of the joint itself.
Common symptoms that signify you may have a problem with your TMJ include the following:
- Pain around the jaw, sometimes spreading to the neck and shoulders.
- A “locked jaw” feeling and limited mobility when opening the mouth.
- Tinnitus-like ringing in the ears
- Pressure in the ears.
- Headaches or migraines that reoccur without explanation.
- Loud clicking of the jaw when eating or speaking.
- A popping sensation when eating or speaking.
- Muscle spasms in the jaw and cheek area.
- An unusual wearing pattern on teeth.
- Unexplained cracking or chipping of teeth.
If you have experienced any of these symptoms, then you know that it can really impact your everyday life.
Common Reasons for TMJ Disorder
As we said earlier, we don’t know exactly what causes TMD, but it is believed that the main cause is often an excessive strain on the jaw joints and the muscle group that controls chewing, swallowing, and speech. However, this strain can also come from any of the following conditions:
- Bruxism (tooth grinding), the habitual, involuntary grinding or clenching of the teeth.
- Trauma to your jaw, head, or neck.
- Displacement of the jaw joint disks.
- Irritable bowel syndrome.
- Clinical, psychological, sensory, genetic, and nervous system factors.
What a dentist can do to diagnose TMJ.
If you come to see the best dentist in the greater East Norriton area, Dr. Cooley Bentz will run several tests to identify if you have TMJ and rule out other potential conditions. Typical tests include the following:
- Touch: Dr. Cooley Bentz will apply a bit of pressure to the jaw and TMJ to test for tenderness and pain.
- Hearing: She will listen for popping and clicking sounds when you open and close your mouth.
- Sight: She will look inside your mouth for evidence of teeth grinding, clenching, and alignment issues. X-Rays are often used to verify the findings if there appears to be evidence of TMJ disorder.
Common Treatments and Treatment Plans for TMJ Disorder
The best treatment for your TMJ disorder will be based on various factors, including your age, your overall health and medical history, and how long the condition is expected to last. We will also look at how well you can handle specific medicines, procedures, or therapies. Of course, your opinion and preferences will be taken into consideration as well. This said, typical treatments for TMJ disorder would include the following:
- Resting the temporomandibular joint (TMJ).
- Prescribed medications or over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Stress management.
- Relaxation techniques including deep-breathing exercises.
- Behavior changes to stop teeth clenching.
- Physical therapy.
- A mouthguard that is worn while you sleep to reduce teeth clenching and grinding.
- Posture training to improve alignment.
- Changes to your diet so that you can rest the jaw muscles.
- Application of alternating ice and hot packs to the affected area.
Let Dr. Cooley Bentz help alleviate your TMJ disorder pain.
If you have been wondering “why do my teeth hurt?” for too long, if you have clenched teeth and can’t seem to control it, or just have jaw pain that won’t go away, now is the time to give your best local dentist a call. Dr. Cooley Bentz in the East Norriton, PA, area can help. Simply request an appointment online or give our office a call. We can’t wait to meet you and help you alleviate your TMJ pain.