TMJ Treatment for Chronic Jaw Pain
Do you wake up in the morning with sore, aching jaws? Do you experience frequent headaches, especially during periods of stress? Does your jaw make a popping or clicking sound when you open your mouth widely? If so, then you may be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ), which interferes with the functioning of your jaw joints. These complex joints connect your lower jaw to your skull, and any disruptions in their movement can cause acute and chronic discomfort, making normal activities like eating and yawning unpleasant. Dr. Steven M Huffstutler has received advanced training, and obtained years of experience diagnosing and treating TMJ-related pain.
Common TMJ Causes and Symptoms
Place your fingertips on both sides of your face, about an inch in front of your ears, and open and close your mouth slightly. You can feel your jaw joints, or TMJs. Healthy TMJs allow you to smoothly open and close your mouth and chew, yawn, and speak with ease. However, if they sustain a physical injury (such as being hit in the jaw) or are placed under excessive stress (such as from constant teeth-grinding), then you can develop TMJ disorder. This disorder can cause serious damage to your teeth and supporting structures, especially if you grind your teeth in your sleep. In fact, studies show that one episode of night time sleep grinding causes more wear than a lifetime of chewing-related bite function. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Frequent headaches or jaw-related discomfort.
- Clicking or popping jaw when you open your mouth, which indicates destructive changes in the jaw joints. Clicking or popping is never normal and is an important warning sign.
- Problems associated with chewing, including the inability to open and close your mouth completely. All teeth should touch and evenly distribute pressure. If this is not the case, then you should undergo a bite assessment to reduce the risk of eventually damaging your teeth or your restorations.
- Cracked or worn down teeth, which exposes the inner tooth structure to bacteria and can lead to decay and infection, often requiring extensive restorations to repair.
In addition to interrupting your ability to enjoy life on a day-to-day basis, TMJ disorder can also lead to severely worn enamel and even loose teeth. Diagnosing TMJ and managing its symptoms as early as possible can help most patients avoid serious structural damage to the jaw, teeth, and other oral structures.
Treating Jaw Pain
Dr. Huffstutler provides conservative, customizable treatment options for TMJ. Many people are under the false impression that treating TMJ requires invasive surgery and a reliance on over-the-counter pain medication. In reality, TMJ treatment is highly individualized and can include a number of different therapies designed to reduce the strain on your jaw joints. In addition to homecare strategies–such as replacing hard crunchy foods with foods that are softer and easier to chew–clinical treatments may be recommended. Occlusal splints, more commonly known as mouth guards, fit directly over your teeth and address bite issues that place excessive stress on your TMJs.
Alleviate Jaw Pain with TMJ Treatment
If you suffer from chronic jaw pain and headaches, then TMJ disorder may be the reason. Find out if custom TMJ treatment can help you by reserving your appointment today. Click the banner below, or call our office in Ft. Worth, TX, at (817) 577-1444. Our office welcomes patients from all over DFW, including Dallas, North Richland Hills, Denton, the Mid-cities, Southlake, and all surrounding communities.