Temporomandibular joint disorder (“TMJ”) is a condition known to cause headaches, migraines, and muscle pain in the neck, head, and shoulders. TMJ disorder (TMD) can lead to joint problems that interfere with everyday activities like eating or talking. Fortunately TMJ treatment does exist and we explore treatment options below.
TMJ Disorder Caused by Bruxism
Constant teeth clenching and grinding, or bruxism, is a common side effect of sleep apnea and stress. All of the tension from constantly clenching and grinding our teeth together can damage the TMJ, triggering joint pain and headaches, not to mention broken teeth.
Even though tooth enamel is the hardest material in the human body, premature wear can occur when we grind our teeth against each other excessively. In time, our teeth gradually wear out and dental work can break.
Problems With Constant Headaches or Migraines?
Strain to and around the TMJ can cause muscle pain and fatigue in the head, neck, and shoulders alike. Overuse of the joint can also cause flare-ups, which is my your TMJ might hurt after eating a steak or chewing bubble gum.
During your visit at Paradise Dental Associates, we’ll also want to find out if you experience jaw pain, headaches, or muscle fatigue when you wake up first thing in the morning. If you are, it’s possible that you’re grinding your teeth when you sleep (which is a common side effect of sleep apnea.)
Since sleeping disorders can also contribute to TMJ disorder, our Salem dentists will want to rule out any other sleep apnea warning signs. Such as high blood pressure, weight gain, fatigue, snoring, difficulty sleeping, or a large neck circumference.
Treating TMJ Disorder and TMD Pain
Research has shown that noninvasive therapies are more effective in managing TMJ disorders than invasive surgical procedures.
Paradise Dental Associates provides non-surgical TMJ treatment to our patients using protective bite splints/oral appliances. These devices be worn while you sleep (nightguards) or during the day.
Each of these custom TMJ devices protect the jaw from strain caused by excessive tension. They also cause the TMJ to default into a resting position, preventing teeth clenching and enamel wear. When the teeth and jaws aren’t fully engaged, it eases strain on the joint and improves comfort in days ahead. That being said, our Salem dentists will need to make sure you’re wearing the most appropriate oral appliance, as TMD caused by sleep apnea should be managed with a separate type of oral appliance.
Tips to Help With Jaw Pain
To minimize TMJ discomfort, we recommend avoiding hard or chewy foods during flare-ups (or altogether.) You can also take an anti-inflammatory like Motrin or ibuprofen as directed and apply moist heat to the side of your face that’s sore.
How Are Bruxism Mouthguards, Nightguards Made?
Custom oral appliances for bruxism, TMJ, and sleep apnea are fitted to your unique teeth by taking a mold of your mouth. This precise fit ensures the highest level of protection, comfort, and success. Depending on your symptoms and causes, daytime bite splints and mouthguards are different than nightguard appliances. We will fit you with the one most appropriate to your health needs, for the best level of protection.
After your initial impressions are made, our Salem dentists will usually have your TMJ splint ready to wear about two weeks later. Each one is made out of a semi-soft yet durable acrylic, which allows for some “give” when you’re grinding your teeth. Over time, the acrylic may wear out but that’s exactly what it’s supposed to do. An old mouthguard can easily be replaced, but your teeth can’t!
Is Tooth Alignment Involved?
Misaligned teeth can lead to gradual joint strain as well. Especially if your TMJ is having to move in an atypical manner whenever you’re chewing food. In time, the irregular biting patterns can strain your jaw joints. If our Salem dentists observe a malocclusion (misalignment in the teeth and jaws) during your dental exam, we might also suggest a clear aligner orthodontic system to improve your biting patterns.
TMJ Treatment in Salem
The small investment in therapeutic TMJ treatments is priceless when it comes to preventing worn teeth, joint damage, and time off from work. Each custom appliance buffers the tension of your teeth, so that you can keep them healthy for a lifetime.
If you’re struggling with jaw pain or feel popping and clicking whenever you open and close your mouth, you might have TMJ problems. Talk to the team at Paradise Dental Associates during your next appointment to request a TMJ evaluation!