Jaw pain can negatively affect your quality of life. Millions of Americans suffer from temporomandibular joint disorders (often referred to as TMJ or TMJD) and unnecessarily endure the uncomfortable consequences that accompany it.
Symptoms of TMD
The primary complaint patients express when experiencing jaw disorders is pain. It is common to wake up with sore jaw muscles, headaches, clicking, popping, and even locking joints. This may limit the foods you can eat and interrupt your sleep.
Other common complaints include neck aches, facial soreness, muscle fatigue, migraines, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and changes in your bite. When left untreated, TMD can worsen over time, making life miserable.
Bruxism (Clenching and Grinding) and TMJ
Patients who suffer from TMD often show signs of nighttime clenching and grinding, known as bruxism. While it is most common for people to experience clenching and grinding in their sleep, they are often unaware of it until it causes cracks or severe wear.
We can detect signs of bruxism during a comprehensive dental exam in our Indianapolis, IN dental office. Bite marks on the insides of your cheeks, prematurely worn and cracked teeth, gum recession, and bony growths under your tongue, called tori, are common indicators of teeth grinding.
Because our jaw muscles are incredibly strong and produce a significant amount of force, you can actually crack and split your teeth, putting your oral health in jeopardy. Bruxism can also cause sensitivity due to excessive pressure and gum recession making it uncomfortable to drink cold drinks or whiten your teeth. Gum recession also exposes the roots of your teeth, making them vulnerable to decay. You may feel fatigued and experience achy muscles in your face, neck, and shoulders.
Treatment of TMD and Bruxism
Effective treatment for TMD and bruxism often includes oral appliance (splint) therapy. Occlusal (bite) splints, sometimes known as nightguards, provide a barrier between your upper and lower teeth. Because we adjust them to fit your bite in specific ways that distribute biting forces in specific locations of your mouth, they allow your jaw to seat comfortably in its joint and encourage your tired, sore muscles to relax.
We will check the fit of your splint periodically to ensure a good fit. Since it provides a barrier between your upper and lower teeth, it can wear down over time, so routine evaluation of your splint is highly recommended.
By seeking treatment for TMJ and teeth grinding, you can reduce the likelihood that you will cause extensive damage to your joints that requires surgery.
Occlusal equilibration is another form of TMJ treatment, often used in conjunction with oral appliance therapy. Dr. Shank will make tiny adjustments to your bite to correct the problems that may be causing your jaw pain and the inability to bring your teeth together correctly. By correcting your bite, we can reduce your symptoms and provide you with relief.
Do You Have Jaw Pain?
Contact our Perry Township, IN dental office to schedule a TMJ exam with Dr. Kyle Shank. Dr. Shank will be able to diagnose any jaw conditions and outline a treatment plan that will allow you to achieve a healthier, more comfortable lifestyle.