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Causes of TMD (Temporomandibular Disorders)
- Injury to the jaw, the joint or muscles of the head and neck, such as from a heavy blow or whiplash
- Grinding or clenching your teeth
- Dislocation of the ball and socket
- Arthritis in the TMJ
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
- Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders, and in or around the ear when you chew or speak
- Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
- Jaws that get stuck, or locked, in the open -or closed- mouth position
- Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew
- Migraines and headaches. Headaches are so common that people believe they are a normal part of living. While this is the case sometimes, headaches may also be indicative of a bigger problem, such as TMD.
- A tired feeling in your face
- Trouble chewing or a sudden uncomfortable bite, as if the upper and lower teeth are not fitting together properly
- Swelling on the side of your face
Treatment for TMD/TMJ
- Medications. Your dentist can prescribe higher doses of anti-inflammatories if you need them to further combat pain and swelling. He might suggest a muscle relaxer to relax your jaw if you grind or clench your teeth. Or an anti-anxiety medication to relieve stress, which may bring on TMD. In low doses, they can also help reduce or control pain.
- A splint or night guard. These plastic mouthpieces fit over your upper and/or lower teeth so they don’t touch. They lessen the effects of clenching or grinding and correct your bite by putting your teeth in a more correct position. What’s the difference between them? You wear night guards while you sleep. You use a splint all the time. Your dentist will tell you which type you need.
- Dental work. Your dentist can replace missing teeth and use crowns, bridges or braces to balance the biting surfaces of your teeth or to correct a bite problem.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS). This therapy uses low-level electrical currents to provide pain relief by relaxing your jaw joint and facial muscles. It can be done at the dentist’s office or at home.
- Ultrasound. Deep heat applied to the joint can relieve soreness or improve mobility.
- Trigger-point injections. Pain medication or anesthesia is injected into tender facial muscles called “trigger points” to give relief.
- Radio wave therapy. Radio waves stimulate the joint, which increases blood flow and eases pain.
- Low-level laser therapy. This lowers pain and inflammation and helps you move your neck more freely and open your mouth wider.
If you grind your teeth at night, you may require a mouth guard for protection and prevention. Other causes may affect your bite as well, which may require corrective dental treatment. We can improve bite by balancing the surfaces of your teeth, and by replacing missing teeth or damaged implants, crowns, or fillings. Maintaining a stable bite is essential to one’s oral health, and ensures that one’s teeth will come in contact in the most pain-free manner possible. Talk to your dentist about these treatments for TMD and which are right for you. Schedule a consultation at West Falls Church Dental; call us at 703-641-8717.