The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, can cause issues when it is damaged or under stress. Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) is often categorized as dysfunction in the jaw joints that can cause pain and tension in the face and jaw.
Dr. Elizabeth Duling offers TMD treatment for patients in and around Owens Cross Roads, AL. She helps patients target areas of tension or pain and can create a custom treatment plan. Thoroughly examining the dental structure and jawbone with x-rays and digital imaging provides a more accurate diagnosis and precise care. TMJ treatment is one of the dental restoration treatments Dr. Duling offers to the public in Owens Cross Roads, AL.
What To Expect
When you visit Dr. Duling to treat your TMD disorder, she will first examine your jaw joints and the muscles of your face. This allows her to find key areas of wear or discomfort. She will also ask questions about how you sleep and where you feel TMD pain. By thoroughly understanding how your TMD symptoms manifest, Dr. Duling will be able to plan customized treatment based on your needs.
Dr. Duling will not immediately recommend procedures without a thorough examination. She wants to target problems specific to your case of TMD.
Watch this video below to learn from Dr. Duling herself about how she helps patients with TMD:
Causes of TMJ
A combination of different factors usually causes TMJ. There’s rarely one singular thing that causes issues with the jaw joint. When we perform your initial consultation, we’ll evaluate the structures of your mouth and talk to you about things you may have noticed that contribute to the condition.
One of the most common TMJ causes is teeth grinding. We usually grind our teeth when we’re sleeping, so sometimes we don’t even notice it becoming a problem. You may also catch yourself doing it throughout the day absentmindedly. When you grind or clench your teeth, your jaw muscles contract repetitively. The more you do this, the more it tenses those muscles and impacts the jaw’s alignment.
Teeth grinding can have psychological factors. When you’re experiencing stress or anxiety, you’re more likely to clench or grind your teeth. It’s one of those natural responses our body has that you may not even notice until you experience pain in the jaw. Stress also causes the muscles in your body to tense up more. You may experience muscle spasms and inflammation in the muscles that control your jaw joint, causing TMJ conditions to worsen.
When your upper and lower jaw don’t align properly, it impacts your bite pattern and how your jaw joint tracks. Because the jaw joint isn’t moving smoothly, it starts to break down. The longer it’s moving in this unnatural way, the more tension and inflammation you experience in your jaw. Even if you aren’t born with a misaligned bite, tooth loss and other medical conditions can change your bite at any time.
Injuries and trauma can impact your bite alignment and jaw movement. A blow to the jaw or face, a car accident, or other incidents involving contact or whiplash can interrupt the balance of your jaw joint. Injuries come with inflammation, which makes you more likely to experience pain and other problems. Trauma can also trigger symptoms similar to arthritis. If you dislocate or break your jaw and don’t get it treated or get poor treatment, it can cause issues in the future.
Common Symptoms of TMD
You may have a temporomandibular joint disorder if you have one or more symptoms. Please contact our office for a dental consultation. Dr. Duling or a member of her dental team will take x-rays and examine your teeth and gums to determine the best treatment for your specific needs. They can provide restorative dental treatment to protect the health and appearance of your teeth and gums.
Facial Pain and Headaches
One of the most prominent signs of TMJ is pain in the jaw and face. It usually concentrates in the area where your jaw joint is located. The pain may be constant or intermittent and can be a stabbing sensation, dull ache, or tenderness in the area. It may also radiate through the rest of your face, neck, shoulders, and ears. Pain and tension spread out from the starting area of the jaw joint.
Chronic headaches and earaches are common symptoms, too. You often notice the headaches upon waking up as you grind your teeth overnight. They can feel like migraines and become increasingly debilitating over time. Because the jaw joint is right beside your ear canal, earaches and ringing in your ears are common, too. Since these headaches and ear problems are often attributed to different issues, it can be hard to determine that they’re due to TMJ disorders.
Jaw Functionality Issues
When you’re opening and closing your mouth, you may notice popping and clicking noises when you move your jaw. Usually, this is caused by irregular movements or displacement of the parts of your jaw joint that make it function. It may be loud enough that people around you can notice it. This is almost always a sign of TMJ, and it’s important that you don’t brush it off if you experience it. It doesn’t always come with pain.
Not only might your jaw joint make noise, but you may develop issues with its function. You may now have trouble moving your mouth in certain ways, like opening your mouth fully. Being unable to close your mouth completely is another common issue. Your jaw may get caught in certain positions and stay there for minutes or hours. It can make it difficult to yawn, speak, or eat properly.
Restorative Dental Concerns
Usually, TMJ and teeth grinding go hand in hand. If you’re grinding your teeth a lot or if certain teeth experience more pressure because of a misaligned bite, it impacts your tooth structure. Your teeth wear down faster and you may notice sensitivity. If you have issues with tooth structure or notice tooth pain, it could hint at TMJ. You may also need to contact our office for dental crowns or other restorations to manage the impacts on your teeth.
Treatments for TMD
Dr. Duling helps patients treat their TMD with oral appliances and Botox:
- Oral Appliances: Custom oral appliances act like mouthguards and are worn at night to stop teeth clenching and grinding. Also known as bruxism, teeth clenching and grinding is a common symptom of TMD that wears down the teeth and causes pain in the jaw and face. Oral appliances prevent bruxism and relieve pain caused by this TMD symptom.
- Botox: Many patients may not realize that Botox can be used to treat dental problems. Botox is a neurotoxin that relaxes the facial muscles and can relieve pain caused by muscle tension. Patients with TMD who have headaches or tension in their face can receive Botox to target their symptoms.
FAQs for TMJ Treatment
TMJ can impact many different facets of your life. Learn more about the condition and how we treat it by reading the answers to the following frequently asked questions.
What happens if TMJ is left untreated?
TMJ can interrupt your life in many ways. It can be very painful, cause major headaches, cause damage to the joints, and wear down your teeth. Many people with TMJ problems have problems sleeping. Chronic pain can lead to depression and anxiety. When left untreated, these things affect your overall quality of life.
What is an oral appliance for TMJ?
A TMJ oral appliance is a custom-made device that will fit snuggly over your teeth. It is commonly used for people who grind their teeth or clench their jaw. Wearing one will reduce the wear and tear on your teeth when you grind or clench. This can prevent damage to your teeth and gums. It will also release some of the tension placed on the jaw joints.
Can Botox help with my TMJ?
Studies have proven that Botox can help manage pain associated with TMJ problems. More and more dentists now offer this facial filler to treat patients who show signs of TMD. Botox injections will decrease the amount of pain the patient is in and help increase mouth movement.
Call Our Dental Office Today
Do you suffer from jaw or tooth pain? Are you looking for a treatment to assuage the painful symptoms of TMD? Call Dr. Duling at 256.202.4186 or request a dental appointment with her on our website. Please let Dr. Duling know if you have any questions about your symptoms or options for treatment. She will help explain every step of the treatment process.