Do you experience any of the following?
Bite feels “off”
Noisy or clicking jaw
These are all signs and symptoms of a possible jaw problem. Temporomandibular Disorder (TMD) is one term for problems with your jaw and facial muscles. You may also hear these issues referred to as Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ). The temporomandibular joint is the joint that allows your jaw to move and connects it to the rest of your skull. You can feel it in action if you press your fingers right in front of your ear, and open and close your mouth. It's very common to have issues with TMD or TMJ, with over 10 million Americans reporting such problems. No matter what name jaw pain goes by, we can help.
Even though the condition is common, that doesn't mean it's harmless. Untreated TMJ can lead to more serious issues. These can include wearing down the jaw joint and teeth, neck and shoulder pain, migraines, and even trouble breathing due to a restricted airway. Sleep apnea often affects people with TMJ, causing snoring, poor sleep, and high blood pressure. And the constant jaw clenching that sometimes accompanies TMJ can lead to jaw and facial pain, muscle fatigue and tension, tooth breakage and gum recession. Some TMJ patients also report dizziness, earaches, and ringing in their ears, which affects their daily lives.
In general, TMJ is caused by dysfunction of or lack of harmony between the jaw joint and facial muscles. Stress, tooth clenching, and an unbalanced bite can be contributing factors to jaw pain. Do you have pain on the side of your face that radiates to the head or neck? Such muscular tension may be caused by clenching your teeth while under stress, or by an unbalanced bite. Other causes include any kind of injury or trauma to the jaw or face, osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis in the joint, or a dislocation of the disc inside the temporomandibular joint.
Are you grinding your teeth at night?
Are you clenching your teeth while helping your child with homework?
Are you gritting your teeth while driving?
These actions can lead to pain in your jaw, and this pain can lead to other issues such as trouble sleeping or dietary problems due to pain when chewing. If you're unable to enjoy some foods, chew gum, or if you're having trouble sleeping because of your jaw pain, it's time to see a dentist who can treat TMJ.
Treatment for jaw pain and TMJ symptoms always depends on the individual and what they're experiencing. Some things that can help are applying heat to tense muscles, using stretching exercises as recommended by your dentist, eating soft foods, and taking medications such as muscle relaxers and anti-inflammatories.
Other medical interventions may be needed in some cases, like wearing a mouthguard or bite splint at night to help realign an unbalanced bite and train the joint and muscles into a less painful shape. That can also cut down on grinding or clenching your teeth to help with pain and other symptoms. In cases where the joint's disc is displaced, surgery is sometimes an option to restore full function to your jaw, but for most people with TMJ, nonsurgical treatments work very well.
Dr. Gould can assess your symptoms, determine the probable cause of your pain and recommend appropriate care to make you feel better and allow you to enjoy your favorite foods!
At our Racine office, you will receive treatment tailored to your needs. Dr. Gould and his team have been effective at treating jaw pain for many years. Don’t live another day with jaw pain, call today!
Dr. Gould has been a Racine dentist since 2005 and has been practicing dentistry for nearly four decades. He takes pride in providing patients with the best care possible, keeping current with the best emerging dental technologies and methods of care to ensure a comfortable experience for his patients. Dr. Gould’s treatment philosophy centers on delivering friendly, compassionate dental care that’s always in the patient’s best interest and never rushed.
If you’re ready to take the next step towards better dental health, book an appointment with us today to experience the Gould Dentistry difference.