Temporomandibular joint disorders occur when the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull are under stress or pressure. Facial and dental injuries, as well as arthritis, can exacerbate the jaw and tooth pain associated with these disorders. At Perfect Smiles, we offer restorative dentistry care through TMJ treatment to patients in Bensalem, PA. Our professional dentists help relieve pain and discomfort caused by TMJ disorders. They take the time to examine the patient’s teeth and jaw joints to find the areas of the mouth and face that require treatment.
Common TMJ Symptoms
There are multiple common signs of TMJ disorders to look out for:
- Jaw pain and tenderness
- Teeth clenching and grinding
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Tense back, neck, and jaw muscles
- Pain or discomfort when chewing
If you have noticed any of these symptoms, please get in touch with our office. We will work with you to find the source of your TMJ symptoms and provide the appropriate treatment. Many patients often do not realize that they have a TMJ disorder because they may clench or grind their teeth at night. At routine appointments, we regularly examine and take x-rays of the smile. Our dentists can help catch signs of TMJ, including tooth wear and damage.
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
There are many factors that can cause problems with TMJ. For instance, it usually goes hand-in-hand with increased stress in your life. Stress causes tension throughout your entire body and can lead to soreness and pain. Stress also makes you more likely to grind and clench your teeth. There’s a disc of cartilage in your jaw joint that allows the jaw to track smoothly. Clenching and grinding your teeth wears down that cartilage, causing pain and making your jaw misfunction. If this disc gets dislocated, that’s another way to develop TMJ.
An uneven bite negatively impacts the jaw joint, too. When the bite is uneven, the jaw doesn’t come together properly. It can pop and click or get stuck when you’re trying to open and close your mouth. Not only do uneven bites cause TMJ disorders, but they wear your teeth down prematurely, too. The pressure of your bite isn’t evenly distributed, so some teeth take on more stress than others. These teeth are also more likely to chip or break.
Trauma, like a punch or an accident in sports, can make your jaw track differently. Conditions like arthritis impact the jaw joint as well. Arthritis inflames and swells the joints, and you can develop it in your jaw joint. Our job is to help you determine the root cause of your TMJ problems. Treating this root cause helps remedy the condition and improves your overall health.
Treatments for TMJ Disorders
There are a variety of treatment options for patients who have TMD:
- Nightguards: Similar to mouthguards, nightguards are custom-made oral appliances used to stop bruxism or teeth clenching and grinding. Nightguards shift the jaw slightly forward and take the pressure off of the jaw joints and muscles. Wearing an oral appliance each night also prevents tooth chips, cracks, and wear.
- Occlusal adjustments: A common risk factor for TMJ disorders are crooked teeth and an uneven bite. Bite and tooth misalignment puts pressure on the muscles and ligaments of the jaw. We may recommend orthodontic treatments like Invisalign to create a more even smile. Our team can also reshape teeth to ensure that the upper and lower tooth arches have even contact.
- Trigger Point Injections: For this treatment, we inject a medicated needle into the tense muscles that surround the temporomandibular joints. This helps loosen tight muscles and reduce pain in the jaw. We will thoroughly examine the facial and jaw muscles to find the best injection points for this treatment.
- Physical Therapy: The majority of TMJ patients will undergo physical therapy. We will refer patients to physical therapists, who will teach and perform exercises to improve painful TMJ symptoms. Head, neck, arm, and jaw stretches help reduce muscle tension and stress. Many physical therapists also provide massages that help relax the mouth and facial muscles. Additionally, patients who undergo physical therapy benefit from a soft diet. Avoiding particularly hard or chewy foods lessens the pressure and pain on the teeth and jaw.
Contact Our Dental Office
If you have experienced jaw pain or chronic headaches, you may have a TMJ disorder. Call our office for treatment at 215-770-1081 if you have noticed TMJ symptoms. Feel free to request a dental appointment with our dental team online.