Protecting Your Jaw And Overall Wellness
Symptoms including chronic headaches or migraines, earaches, and jaw pain may seem unrelated to dentistry but actually can indicate problems with your overall oral health The health and function of your jaw affect not only your teeth and mouth but also can impact the rest of your body. That’s why our team at State Street Smiles ensures that in addition to your teeth, your jaw health is in optimal condition as well.
Trauma, stress, and underlying conditions can cause issues with your jaw which can make normal tasks such as eating and speaking painful. If you experience any discomfort in your jaw, Dr. Jackson can check for signs of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) and create a personalized treatment plan to address your symptoms.
What is TMD?
TMJ disorder occurs when excess pressure is put onto your temporomandibular joints (TMJ), which help to make up your jaw muscles. These joints are present on both sides of your face and connect your skull to your lower jaw. They also allow you to open and close your mouth as well as move from side to side. TMJ disorder (TMD) can manifest when issues arise with these joints or even the surrounding muscles, bones, discs, and cartilage.
Causes of TMD
Because of the complexity of this disorder and the variety of potential causes, our experts at State Street Smiles understand the importance of evaluating your case and creating a treatment plan personalized to your unique situation. Some causes of TMD may include:
- Misalignment of your temporomandibular joints
- Damaged jaw muscles of tissue due to arthritis
- Trauma sustained due to a sports injury or accident
- Malocclusion (ill-bite) due to orthodontic issues
- Jaw tension due to clenching or nighttime teeth grinding (bruxism)
These issues can put more pressure on your TMJ and cause pain as well as a variety of other symptoms.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMD causes pain and discomfort that can be temporary or chronic depending on the severity of your case. While many patients consider this pain to be normal, TMJ issues can affect either side of your face.
Other symptoms of TMD to consider include:
- Tenderness, soreness, or pain in your jaw, face, shoulders, neck, and ears whenever you open your mouth wide, chew, or speak
- Difficulty speaking, chewing, or opening your mouth
- Swelling of lymph nodes
- Swelling in the side of your face
- Popping, grating, or clicking sounds beneath your ear when moving your mouth
- Lockjaw (trismus) wherein your jaw becomes frozen in an open or closed position.
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Headaches or chronic migraines
If you’re experiencing any of these issues, we recommend that you make an appointment with Dr. Jackson by calling (201) 389-2183 so that we can determine if TMJ therapy can help relieve your symptoms.
Dangers of Untreated TMD
While the most common symptom of TMD is pain in the jaw, the longer you go without treatment, the more intense the discomfort will become. For some patients, chronic pain may not seem serious, but if you leave your TMD untreated, you also run the risk of:
- Dislocation, lockjaw, and other serious injuries to the jaw
- Increased risk of connective tissue diseases such as arthritis
- Irreversible damage to teeth due to teeth grinding
- Gum recession
- Hearing loss due to prolonged tinnitus
A majority of TMD cases can be corrected non-surgically. Dr. Jackson will always explore non-invasive treatment options before considering surgery, which can permanently solve your TMJ issues.
TMJ Therapy Treatment
TMJ issues can be reversed with proper treatment that’s custom-designed depending on the cause of your symptoms. During your consultation, Dr. Jackson will provide a comprehensive examination to create a treatment plan designed for your unique situation.
If your TMJ symptoms are a result of orthodontic issues, Dr. Jackson may recommend treatments or procedures that correct these issues as part of your individualized plan.
If stress and tension are core factors of your symptoms, we may also recommend relaxation and stress management techniques as part of your plan.
For patients who grind in their sleep, a customized nighttime oral appliance, otherwise known as a nightguard, may be prescribed.
They are comfortable appliances you wear during sleep and can protect you from the negative effects of teeth grinding and jaw tension that may be causing your symptoms.
No two cases of TMD are the same. When you visit State Street Smiles, you can trust that your TMJ therapy treatment plan is tailored to your specific situation and designed to help you reclaim your pain-free life.
Frequently Asked Questions
Even if you experience occasional jaw pain, face soreness, or difficulty opening and closing your mouth, it may be a good idea to reach out to our professionals at State Street Smile.
If the pain impacts your everyday activities like eating and speaking, you should definitely reach out for professional help.
TMD can become progressively worse without treatment, putting you more at risk for serious and sometimes irreversible issues. Dr. Jackson will conduct a thorough examination to determine if you have TMD and provide a personalized treatment plan for you.
While professional treatment is the only way to properly treat and, in some cases, reverse TMD, there are some things you can do at home to help mitigate pain associated with TMJ disorder:
- Take over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen to help with muscle swelling and pain.
- Use cold or hot compresses
- Do jaw stretches as prescribed
- Eat softer foods such as yogurt, beans, grains, eggs, etc.
- Avoid crunchy or chewy foods
- Cut food into smaller, easily chewable pieces so there’s less pressure on your jaw
- Practice relaxation techniques
- Avoid activities that require extreme jaw movements such as yelling, singing, or chewing gum
TMD is diagnosed through a variety of non-invasive tests. During your thorough examination, you can expect us to:
- Perform a tactile exam where Dr. Jackson will feel along your jaw with slight pressure to find any points of tenderness or pain.
- Have you open and close your mouth so we can listen for popping or clicking sounds.
- Inspect the inside of your mouth to look for signs of teeth grinding or alignment issues.
- Take detailed x-rays if we suspect TMD so we can develop a treatment plan suited to your unique situation.
If left untreated, TMD can lead to arthritis of the jaw. If you already have arthritis, it can impact your TMJ and lead to complications of TMD. The two common types of arthritis that manifest for patients include:
Osteoarthritis, a common form of arthritis, is a condition where the protective cartilage located around the ends of your bones wears down over time. If this impacts your temporomandibular joints, it can make moving your jaw painful and you may feel a grating sensation as the joint moves.
Rheumatoid arthritis is another common form of arthritis and is more common in older patients and women. In this condition, joints start to lose their function, and pain, stiffness, and swelling of the joints are common symptoms. While this form of arthritis usually affects other joints, it can cause your TMJ to become weakened.