TMD / TMJ Therapy
Pain and stiffness in your jaw can be treated with help from a local dentist.
If you have stiffness or pain in the back of your jaw, it may be TMJ disorder. TMJ is actually the temporomandibular joint in the back of your jaw which acts like a hinge for opening and closing your mouth. It is one of those parts of your body that you may take for granted until you experience pain from daily activities such as chewing food or opening your mouth to yawn.
Get relief from jaw pain with help from a dentist who is experienced in treating TMJ disorder. Find a specialist near you.
How Is TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
While many people experience symptoms of TMJ disorder, the actual cause is not always known. Unfortunately, there is no one test to diagnose it or a one-size-fits-all treatment. Sometimes TMJ disorder is just a temporary condition, but for others it is long term.
Pain during chewing is one of the most common symptoms. Other symptoms include:
Jaw muscle stiffness or locking of jaw
Clicking or popping sounds when the jaw joint opens and closes
A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
Pain in the face or neck
How Is TMJ Treated?
It helps to understand how the temporomandibular joint works. Bones, protective tissue, and muscles work together to slide and hinge the jaw. For some, their natural anatomy puts them at risk for pain and inflammation in this area. For others, disease, injury, or even stress can cause changes in the alignment or function of the joint.
You may need to see more than one medical specialist to get relief from TMJ. But a good place to start is your dentist. A thorough exam will provide clues about the alignment of your bite, the movement of your jaw, and the exact location of your pain.
First steps in treatment are often described as “self care” to relieve the discomfort of this disorder. These may include:
Eating soft foods
Using ice packs or moist heat
Avoiding jarring jaw movements such as wide yawning and gum chewing
Engaging in relaxation techniques or gentle exercises to improve flexibility of the joint
However, these homecare treatments may not be enough. For persistent sufferers of TMJ pain, there are generally three categories of more aggressive treatments to consider:
Medicines can help relieve pain, relax the jaw muscles, or aid in sleeping.
Therapies can include bite guards to relieve pain and realign the mouth or treatments with a specialist to reduce stress and improve the muscle function.
Medical interventions include more invasive or even permanent changes to your jawbone and muscle structure. This can range from injections at the site of pain to surgeries, however these options should be researched carefully.
Treating TMJ pain can be trial and error. For that reason it is important to find a dentist experienced in this disorder who will work with you to find relief for your symptoms.