Millions of Americans suffer from pain in the jaw, head, neck or shoulders, not realizing the pain is due to issues of the temporomandibular joint. This joint hinges the jawbone to the skull and can cause pain or discomfort for a variety of reasons. Issues with this joint are often referred to as TMJ or TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder.)
Clenching and/or grinding your teeth are among the most common reasons for TMJ/TMD discomfort. This practice puts added stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the joint. This causes fatigue and irritation, leading to discomfort and/or pain. TMJ/TMD can also be caused by trauma. A blow to the jaw can overextend the muscles and other structures, igniting the condition.
Approximately one third of the adult population are affected with TMJ/TMD. Most of those affected are females, and the most prevalent symptom is headache. Problems with the joint can show up as referred pain in other parts of the head, neck and shoulders.
When the cause and diagnosis of TMJ/TMD has been identified, a treatment plan is devised. In many cases, the pain from this disorder will resolve on its own without any intervention other than over-the-counter pain relievers. Mild cases of the condition often resolve with targeted exercises. Nightguards can also provide relief from symptoms.
Jaw Pain, Facial Pain Relief
TMJ/TMD is a condition that responds well to the right treatment. Your dentist will give you an oral examination and ask questions about your symptoms. Some testing may be advised in order to determine the exact cause and extent of the condition.
Acetaminophen or ibuprofen are often used for relieving the pain caused by this condition. When these are not effective, your dentist may make other recommendations such as using a nightguard. This is a dental appliance worn at night. Similar to an athletic mouthguard, the nightguard fits in your mouth and prevents you from grinding your teeth.
Your dentist may also advise you to practice relaxation techniques if your TMJ/TMD seems to be caused by stress. Learning to relax and manage your stress levels may help relieve your symptoms.
Stop putting up with the pain and discomfort caused by this condition. Contact Rivers + West Family Dentistry now to schedule an appointment for an exam. We will help you get back to pain-free living with treatment for your TMJ/TMD.