Suffering facial pain? Headaches? Jaw pain? Call us at (540) 667-8731 today.
If you suffer chronic head and neck pain such as headaches, earaches, and jaw pain, you may have dismissed these pains as symptoms of stress and tension in your life. The truth is your pain and discomfort may be caused by an actual condition commonly called TMJ. TMJ is a chronic disorder that affects not only your jaw but your entire body to varying degrees.
Contact Winchester Smiles to learn more about TMJ and schedule an evaluation. Serving the Winchester, VA, area, we have the experience and skill to diagnose your TMJ and treat it effectively.
What Is TMJ?
Temporomandibular joint syndrome, often referred to simply as TMJ, is a disorder affecting the jaw’s muscles and nerves. It results from inflammation to the joint area caused by injury or damage from chronic conditions such as arthritis. It may also occur when the natural wear of the joint’s movement damages the disk and cartilage.
The primary symptom of TMJ is pain, which includes:
- Pain and tenderness in the jaw
- Pain in one or both joints
- Pain when chewing or difficulty chewing
- Pain in and around the ear
- Facial pain
If you notice a clicking sound when you move your jaw or feel a grating sensation when it moves, those are also signs you may have developed TMJ. In extreme cases, TMJ can result in jaw locking, a situation that requires immediate medical help.
Am I At Risk for TMJ?
Many factors can put you at higher risk for developing problems with TMJ. The list includes:
- Weak joints, resulting from degenerative joint disease, hormonal joint problems, or any form of arthritis
- Chronic grinding or clenching of your teeth
- Growth defects
- Any prior injury to the head or neck
Treatments and Therapies For TMJ
If you think you have experienced any of the symptoms listed above and think you may be suffering from TMJ, you need to consult with a dentist. A dentist with skill in diagnosing and treating TMJ will be able to determine whether you have the condition and can present you with the best course of treatment.
Treatments vary depending on the kind of pain you’re experiencing and the root cause.
One of the most common therapies that dentists will use to treat TMJ is an oral splint or mouthguard. Also called occlusal appliances, these are fitted to your mouth and help eliminate the pain and discomfort by changing your jaw’s position. The goal is to balance the jaw, adjusting the bite to decrease or eliminate grinding and clenching.
Botox® is now being used to treat some of the symptoms of TMJ, including chronic migraine and bruxism (grinding and clenching). Though using Botox® for TMJ treatment is considered “off label,” there have been noteworthy results in patients who have received Botox® injections. Many have had significant improvements in their ability to use their jaw, decreased overall pain and tenderness in the joint areas, and general improvement of function.