If you’re one of millions suffering from chronic myofascial pain—pain in the jaw, head, face, neck, and/or shoulders—we want you to know you’re not alone, and we can help! Many people who suffer from chronic pain and tension in these areas are unaware that the source of their pain is actually their TMJ—the jaw joint. A healthy TMJ allows us to eat a healthy diet and speak clearly, but if there is injury, stress, or any other problems with this delicate joint, it can cause a whole lot of pain and grief. Not to worry, that’s where we come in!
“K&K is the best dental practice I have ever been to. The cutting-edge technology is also interesting to see as a patient. You are a top-notch brother/sister duo!” – Jennifer M.
The three acronyms above are all used interchangeably to describe the same thing—any pain, tension, misalignment, or other issues with the jaw joint. Equally complex and susceptible to injury as your other joints, the jaw joint doesn’t get a lot of attention in the general public—most people don’t even think about it’s potential for injury!
As much as we eat, speak, yawn, and clench our teeth, it’s no wonder so many people experience pain and tension here. TMD can also manifest in the form of popping, locking, or clicking in the jaw joint, as well as pain that radiates from the jaw, through the face and the head, and even down into the shoulders. If any of this sounds familiar, keep reading to learn more!
It’s worth noting that 90% of people seeking treatment for TMJ dysfunction are women in their childbearing years. There may be many factors at play here, including stress, hormones, physical joint structure, risk for other diseases like arthritis, willingness to seek treatment, and more.
Some habits exacerbate the problem, including teeth grinding and clenching, nail biting, lip chewing, chewing on pens and pencils, resting the face on the palm, and other related actions that may strain the jaw joint. Aside from the physical pain we’ve discussed already, the consequences of TMJ dysfunction may also include worn down teeth, and it may also be a sign of sleep apnea.
The first step in finding relief will be a comprehensive consultation. This will help us narrow down what’s causing your pain, so we can find the proper course of treatment. Some general tips for relief include eating soft foods, using a cold compress, taking anti-inflammatories, and getting fitted for a custom nightguard to protect your teeth while you sleep to soften the impact and minimize the damage.
If your teeth don’t align well when you bite down, referred to as malocclusion, we may be able to bring your jaw into better alignment with restorative dentistry and/or orthodontics. If there is damage to the physical joint itself, it may require jaw surgery to correct the problem. A nightguard is always recommended for clenching and grinding, but we will let you know if other treatments may help.