Covering All the Bases of TMJ Treatment
Most people know the importance of regular trips to the dentist. However, they don’t always know what all your dentist can do for you. Many dental professionals are well-equipped to treat temporomandibular joint pain (TMJ) as well as perform routine teeth cleanings and root canals. At Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry, we make it our priority to provide comprehensive dental services, whether that’s general dentistry or treatment for chronic TMJ pain. If your quality of life has been diminished by a TMJ disorder, don’t hesitate to make an appointment at our Laurel, MD office. Our dentists are here to discuss your condition and come up with an effective treatment plan. With years of combined experience under our belt, you’re likely to find lasting relief from such discomfort. Learn more about the condition and its treatment options.
What Is TMJ Pain?
TMJ pain refers to discomfort involving the temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your jawbone and skull, much like a hinge. TMJ pain, or TMJ disorders, often refer to a wide range of conditions, all affecting the area that controls jaw movement. Many cases of TMJ pain are associated with arthritis, displaced discs, a dislocated jaw, or another injury. This pain may be chronic or occur off and on.
Is It Different from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction?
TMJ pain goes by several slightly different names, and temporomandibular joint dysfunction is one of them. You may also hear the condition referred to as TMD or TMJ syndrome. Some dentists will use the umbrella term “temporomandibular disorders” at times. Generally speaking, many of these terms can be used interchangeably.
What Causes TMJ Pain?
For many patients, the cause of their TMJ disorder is not clear. However, we do know a variety of reasons why this condition may emerge. Because TMJ disorders have so many causes and are so widespread, it’s essential to talk to your dental professional at your first inkling of a problem. TMJ pain may occur for the following reasons:
- A disc that has moved out of alignment
- Improper disc movement
- Misaligned bite
- Injuries that result in cartilage damage
- Teeth grinding or clenching
- Missing teeth or worn-down teeth that cause an uneven bite
- Stress and tightening of the jaw muscles
Know These TMJ Symptoms
Too often, TMJ symptoms are overlooked. This is because we usually chalk the pain up to stress or something that will go away on its own. However, chronic TMJ disorder can stay with you for a long time. Be sure to look for the following symptoms, and get in touch with Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry once you notice one or more:
- Pain in the temporomandibular joint(s)
- Jaw often locks or “gets stuck”
- Pain or tenderness around the jaw or in the face, neck, ears, and shoulders
- Pain when chewing
- Ear pain or ringing in the ears
- Teeth grinding
- Frequent headaches
- Stiffness in the jaw
- Excessive, unexplained dizziness
- Clicking or popping sounds when opening and closing your mouth
Alleviate Some of Your Symptoms at Home
If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, you’ll want to get in touch with Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry right away. However, we understand you may not always have time to drop everything and visit the dentist. While you wait for your appointment, you can use some self-care methods to lessen your pain. First, stay away from hard, chewy foods and any major jaw movements, including singing and yawning. Look up tried-and-true jaw stretching techniques or ask your dentist for easy TMJ exercises. Attempting to reduce your stress may also help relieve pain. When all else fails, you can always apply an ice pack to reduce your discomfort.
Am I At Risk for TMJ Disorder?
Although the causes of TMJ pain are not fully understood, we have still identified risk factors that may increase your chances of developing the condition. Those who have arthritis or connective tissue disease in other parts of the body are at higher risk of TMJ pain as well. Traumatic jaw injuries and a history of chronic teeth grinding will also up your chance of developing the condition in the future. Talk to your dentist about ways you can mitigate these risks.
Explore Your Treatment Options
Just as TMJ disorders have an array of different causes, they can also be treated with a variety of therapies, surgeries, and medications. The best method for you will depend on the severity and persistence of your specific condition. Once you discuss your symptoms and medical history with your dentist, they’ll develop a proposed treatment plan. Here’s a brief overview of some of the options you can expect.
Some cases of TMJ pain are effectively treated with medication. Your dentist may prescribe pain relievers or anti-inflammatory medication to reduce your discomfort. Other patients might benefit from using muscle relaxants for a few days. These medications can alleviate pain resulting from frequent muscle spasms.
Physical therapy and certain TMJ exercises may help to relieve pain. These practices strengthen muscles throughout the jaw and stretch them as well. We may recommend doing these exercises in combination with applying heat and ice.
Stress often brings on TMJ pain. While getting rid of stress is easier said than done, our team will help you find strategies that work for you. We may suggest counseling so you can better understand, avoid, and deal with your everyday stressors.
If your TMJ pain is caused by teeth grinding, we may prescribe a mouthguard. Many patients benefit from wearing them during sleep, as these soft devices minimize the damage to your teeth as you involuntarily grind them.
The most stubborn cases of TMJ disorder may require oral surgery. Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry has a strong track record of providing various TMJ treatment surgeries. We may consider arthrocentesis, TMJ arthroscopy, or open-joint surgery as a means of alleviating your pain in the long term. Our team will make sure you understand how to prepare for surgery and proper aftercare.
How Much Will TMJ Surgery Cost?
Jaw surgeries tend to be very expensive. Nevertheless, Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry works hard to ensure our patients can afford the dental care they need. We’re happy to help you navigate your insurance plan and find out what can be covered under your policy. Many insurance providers consider these surgeries “medically necessary” and will cover at least part of the cost.
Why Addressing TMJ Pain Quickly Is Crucial
Receiving medical help for your TMJ pain is imperative. While you may be able to deal with the discomfort for the time being, this condition can quickly give rise to other issues. Untreated TMJ disorders can result in further jaw problems or tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Patients may also develop dental health problems, such as broken teeth and worn-down enamel. In the most severe cases, teeth grinding may even result in an asymmetrical face shape.
Have Another Question? Ask Our Team!
If you’ve struggled with TMJ pain for a while, you’re bound to have questions. The team at Dr. Batz & Weiner Family Dentistry is always ready to address your concerns and eliminate some of your stress. Simply call or make an appointment at our Laurel, MD office, and we’ll give you the information and advice you need. Contact us today to learn more.