How Can a TMJ Dentist Help With Jaw Pain?

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How Can a TMJ Dentist Help With Jaw Pain?

TMJ Dentists relieve jaw pain

TMJ Dentists relieve jaw pain

Millions of people every year consult a TMJ dentist because they suffer from chronic pain in the facial area, including things such as headaches, jaw pain, and even earaches. While there are many reasons such ailments can occur, they are often related to a condition referred to as TMJ. This condition greatly affects a person’s quality of life. It causes debilitating pain that reduces the ability to successfully eat, sleep, and even function well in everyday activities. Fortunately, there are many treatment options available, especially with the assistance of a TMJ dentist. Read on to discover more about TMJ and what you can do to combat it.

What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular disorder (TMJ) is a broad term encompassing many different conditions that effect the nerves of the face, jaw muscles, and joints. The temporomandibular joint itself exists on both sides of the head and is part of a complex system that creates the ability to properly speak and chew.

Symptoms of TMJ often occur with the opening and closing of the jaw, accompanied by a clicking or popping noise when opening the mouth. Additional symptoms may include headaches/neck pain; pain when chewing or swallowing; earache or pain in the ear when swallowing; teeth that are sensitive with no other dental issues present; general jaw pain; and pain and difficulty when opening and closing the jaw.

Consulting a TMJ Dentist

There are many options available for those who suffer from TMJ. The first step is to consult a TMJ dentist to determine if your symptoms are, in fact, caused by this ailment. The dentist will engage in a number of activities including a range of motion test for the jaw, pressing and touching areas of the face to determine sensitivity or pain, and listening to, and feeling, the jaw as it opens and closes.

If the TMJ dentist suspects you have this condition, they may conduct further tests such as x-ray, MRI, or CT scans. An additional test sometimes used is called a TMJ arthroscopy, where a thin tube is placed into the joint, along with a small camera, that can be used to help confirm a TMJ diagnosis. These tests help determine the extent of the illness, as well as the amount of damage the joint, or joints, have suffered.

Treatment Options for TMJ

Fortunately, you do not have to live with the pain and discomfort of this condition. Once your TMJ dentist has confirmed a diagnosis, there are many treatment options available to help ease your jaw pain. Read on for a variety of possibilities, ranging from conservative methods all the way to surgery, if necessary. One of them is sure to work for you!

  1. Sometimes, TMJ will go away on its own. Your TMJ dentist will conduct a complete evaluation and may suggest you wait a period of time to see if this will be the case for you.
  2. Medication is often a suggested treatment for TMJ. Sometimes, an over the counter medication is enough, but stronger medicine can be prescribed if necessary. These include prescription pain medication, anti-depressants, and muscle relaxers.
  3. Surgery is sometimes necessary, especially if other treatment options have been exhausted. These measures can range from the more conservative treatment of injections into the joint to the actual surgery on a joint that is structurally damaged.
  4. Physical therapy can also be effective. This works by stretching and strengthening jaw muscles, and sometimes also utilizes varying combinations of ice, heat, and ultrasound.
  5. Counseling is another method sometimes used to treat TMJ. Often, TMJ pain is caused by stress induced behaviors, such as grinding teeth while sleeping. Counseling can provide the education and assistance needed to cease, or significantly reduce, these behaviors.
  6. Oral appliances can also be used to treat TMJ. These may be similar to a mouth guard and can easily be prescribed and fitted by your TMJ dentist.

Lifestyle Changes Your TMJ Dentist May Recommend

There are some things you can do on your own to help manage your TMJ symptoms. A TMJ dentist will complete a thorough evaluation and recommend particular activities that meet your individual needs. These may be recommended as an accompaniment to treatments provided by your dental professional or may be utilized by those whose symptoms are deemed likely to go away on their own. Some of these activities may include:

  1. Being more mindful of your food intake can make a difference if you are suffering from TMJ. Watch out for sticky food and foods that require a lot of grinding of your teeth.
  2. Your dentist or physical therapist may show you some massage techniques you can implement on your own at home. They may also recommend moist heat or cold/ice treatments you can do by yourself to manage any discomfort.
  3. Implementing mindfulness or relaxation techniques can also make a difference. When you reduce stress, your muscles relax, which can help in reducing pain. Your TMJ dentist may be able to provide resources that can assist you in learning more about this.

When Should I Consult a TMJ Dentist?

If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms discussed in this article, it is a good idea to consult a TMJ dentist. With so many varied treatment options available today, there is no reason to live in pain and discomfort. If you’re not sure where to find the best TMJ dentists, start with your family dental provider or check with your physician. Either one of these medical professionals should be able to give you a referral to the dentist that can best serve your needs.

If you’re interested in learning more about treating your jaw pain please contact Mark Levy DDS today. Our experienced staff can provide a full evaluation. They’ll also give you all the information you need to make the best decision for your treatment needs.

Call Mark Levy DDS today at (614)777-7350 to learn more about treating your Obstructive Sleep Apnea with oral appliances.