Are you suffering from jaw pain? Does your jaw make popping or clicking sounds when you open it? Do you have regular headaches or migraines that aren’t responding to the treatments your doctor recommends? Perhaps the true cause of your symptoms is temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). In TMJ, a dysfunction in your jaw joint can cause muscle strain, pinched nerves, and other effects that cause numerous symptoms throughout the body. Although your doctor may have difficulty recognizing and treating TMJ, you may be delighted at the results a neuromuscular dentist can give.
If you are tired of living with TMJ, we can help. Please call (508) 720-5000 to make an appointment with our Natick dentist.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder) is when your jaw joint isn’t working properly due to many different causes. Although this sounds like a simple problem, its effects can be complicated and far-reaching.
Your jaw joint exists at a major crossroads of your body. It’s directly involved in eating, drinking, speaking, and breathing. Indirectly, the muscles that control your jaw partner with the muscles that keep your neck in alignment to support you head and those that are on your scalp and face. In addition, your ear is very near your jaw joint, and major nerves and blood vessels run by your jaw joint.
As a result, a problem with your jaw joint can result in many different symptoms.
What Causes TMJ?
Although the precise cause of TMJ is unknown, some situations that may contribute to the condition include an injury to that portion of the face, arthritis, an improper bite, or any combination of those. People who are under severe stress often clench or grind their teeth while they sleep – a condition referred to as bruxism – and that may contribute to TMJ disorder or develop as a result of TMJ disorder. Bruxism can increase facial pain and negatively impact the joints, which can lead to tissue damage. This, in turn, can cause muscle tenderness and painful spasms, creating a seemingly endless cycle of facial pain.
TMJ symptoms can be local or they can be spread throughout your body. Some TMJ symptoms include:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw sounds: clicking, popping, or grinding
- Sore teeth
- Worn, chipped, or cracked teeth
- Pain in the face, or behind the eye
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Vertigo, dizziness, or balance problems
- Neck pain
- Upper back pain
- Tingling or numbness in the fingers
Living with unexplained, sometimes incapacitating, physical pain can cause a host of other debilitating emotional issues such as: Depression, Loss of sleep, Feelings of helplessness, Apathy, and Dependency on painkillers. With all these symptoms, it’s no wonder that doctors often have difficulty diagnosing TMJ. However, neuromuscular dentistry has the tools to properly diagnosis TMJ.
One of the reasons TMJ often goes undiagnosed is that it can be the result of a number of different circumstances. Here are few common causes of TMJ: 1) Malocclusion (uneven bite), 2) Jaw misalignment, 3) Jaw or head trauma, and 4) Unbalanced muscles.
At Natick Family Dental, we begin your TMJ disorder treatment by determining the cause of your symptoms. Each patient is treated based on what caused their TMJ, so treatments vary. Our dentist have successfully treated TMJ cases of all known origins.
What’s the first step to getting rid of temporomandibular jaw disorder? Our dentist will perform a comprehensive examination of your teeth and jaw. Next, we will review your medical and dental history, take a set of digital x-rays, measure the range of motion in your jaw, and perform a bite evaluation using the state-of-the-art T-Scan® dental occlusion scanning tool.
After we have determined the source of your TMJ, our dentist will design a custom course of treatment to return your jaw to pain-free, working order.
Are Your Headaches Caused by a TMJ Disorder?
About 10% of people in the US suffer from chronic headaches. Those individuals often turn to pain medicine to alleviate their symptoms. In actuality, many of those people may suffer from a TMJ disorder that is caused by a bad bite or any of the other possibilities we have mentioned here.
Some studies suggest that more than 40 million people in the US suffer needlessly from TMJ disorders. If you or a member of your family is experiencing any of the symptoms related to TMJ.
A Social Cost – Hurts Too Much To Talk
Everyone wants, and needs, to feel good about themselves and be free of pain to perform at their best. It’s hard to feel sociable when you’re in excruciating pain – in fact, usually you don’t feel like doing anything.
Also, often without realizing it, TMJ sufferers may distort their smile, with a sort of grimacing effect, which can cause others to perceive them as unhappy or unfriendly and avoid them.
Either way, people’s entire lives can be affected with social loss – personally and professionally.
How Long Does It Take to Get Results?
Every case is unique. Some people report pain relief in as little as 24 – 48 hours after initial treatment – for others it can range from two weeks to several months – depending on how extensive their problem is.
Who Can Help Me If I Do Have TMJ?
Not every dentist has the expertise to assess the jaw-to-bite relationship properly and work with TMJ patients. It’s extremely important to consult with a dental professional who is highly experienced specifically in the evaluation and treatment of TMJ disorder.
Our TMJ Dentists can help relieve your painful TMJ and Headache symptoms. Call today at (508) 720-5000 and make an appointment to see a TMJ dentist. Our dental office also serves communities like Natick, Sherborn, Dover, Wellesley, Framingham, Wayland, Needham, Ashland, Holliston, and Southborough.