More than 10 million Americans will experience jaw pain and headaches this year due to a TMJ problem, and most have no clue what this is! The TMJ is actually the temporomandibular joint, which is the set of hinges that connects your lower jaw to your skull. Issues in this area are referred to as TMJ dysfunction, or TMD. If your jaw constantly feels stiff or sore, or if you can’t remember the last time you had a headache-free day, TMJ therapy might be exactly what you need to enjoy lasting relief. To learn more about how we’re ready to help, contact us today.
Diagnosis & Treatment
So what causes a TMD? There are many factors, but the most prominent ones include daily stress, injury, arthritis, and an uneven bite. Determining the root cause of someone’s problem is the first step to finding a solution, and we do this by examining the bite visually and taking X-rays of the joint. This enables us to pinpoint the source of someone’s issue so we can then prescribe the ideal treatment.
Equilibration/ Occlusal Adjustments
If the bite doesn’t come together properly, whether due to missing teeth or ill-fitting dental restorations, this can place the jaw joint in an unnatural position that creates pain and tension that can easily radiate throughout the entire face, head, and neck. We can find these trouble spots and then rebalance the bite so that the pressure is evenly distributed, which will allow the joint and adjoining muscles to naturally relax and heal.
Often, a TMD is the result of nocturnal teeth grinding, or bruxism. This places an extreme amount of pressure on the TMJ and can leave the jaw muscles feeling sore and stiff all the time. An occlusal splint is a small, custom oral appliance that a patient wears to bed, and it not only places the jaw into a more relaxed position, but it also prevents teeth grinding. After a few weeks or months of consistent use, a patient should be able to wake up pain-free and not experience any problems during the day.
Treatment with TENS Machine
The TENS machine is a small device that can provide a short-term solution for TMJ pain while a more long-lasting treatment is being applied. Small electrodes are placed on the face and jaw, and then they are stimulated by tiny micropulses of electricity. The patient will just feel a slight tingle, and this process helps prevent the muscles from sending pain signals to the brain. Initially, a patient may benefit from multiple TENS sessions a week, but as time goes on, it will be needed less and less, and then not at all.
While BOTOX is mostly known for its ability to lessen the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles on the face, it has long been used as a trusted pain-reliever as well. With just a few minutes and a small number of strategic injections, a dentist can stop overactive jaw muscles from spasming and tensing. This can make someone’s TMJ pain quickly go away and stay gone for months at a time, plus it can prevent the nighttime teeth grinding that is often the source of the problem.