If you suffer pain in the jaw, headaches and get even neck pains it could be that TMJ therapy is your answer. TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint which is the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. The joint has nerves which can get compressed leading to pain. Most people will suffer this pain at some point or other in their lives but there are those for whom the condition becomes chronic – they are in pain all the time, especially at night which means that they cannot sleep which affects their productivity. Chronic TMJ pain can be caused by trauma to the jaw or neck, grinding your jaw at night when you are asleep, over-chewing things like gum, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis .The best way to know whether you need TMJ is to see your Sacramento, CA dentist – they will examine your jaws and tell you whether or not you need therapy.
We have already mentioned that most people will get TMJ pain at some point, but how do you know that it is serious enough for you to see your Sacramento, CA dentist? Here are the signs that you should be looking out for:
• You will feel pain in the jaw area which radiated into your neck and upper back. As the condition worsens the pain also gets worse. You may also experience facial spasms. You will mostly feel the pain when you chew, talk or move your jaw. The pain tends to get worse at night.
• You may suffer dizzy spells from time to time – the pain is close to your ear which is responsible for balance.
• Many people who suffer from TMJ also suffer from tinnitus or ringing ears and even hearing loss.
• You may feel a pop each time you move your jaw.
• The area around the painful jaw can swell and become irritated when the symptoms get very bad.
• You will have constant headaches that don’t go away when you take painkillers.
• Your jaw may lock closed open or shut.
Visiting your dentist:
When you go to your Sacramento, CA dentist there are some questions he will ask you to establish that you are indeed suffering from TMJ disorder. He will ask you to describe your pain, point to the area that is hurting, he will ask if you grind your teeth and how often, he will ask whether you clench your jaw for long periods of time and he will also want to know whether you chew gum and for how long. He will also get into your dental habits.
Once you have described your pain the dentist will proceed to examination in order to confirm his prognosis. He will look for signs of wear and tear on your molars and he may also ask you to align your teeth so that he can look for signs of an overbite, an open bite or a cross bite. They will ask you whether you have had any dental work done and how long ago it was. Depending on your symptoms they may take your blood to check for white cell levels in order to rule out other diseases. He will take an X ray to confirm that it is indeed TMJ.
It is quite likely that your dentist will make recommendations before reaching for more aggressive procedures. They usually suggest that you should:
• Eat softer and pureed foods.
• Stop eating gum.
• Use heat packs to lower pain levels.
• Reduce jaw tension by using massages and other techniques such as meditation.
• They will show you different exercises you can do to relax your jaw muscles. You can find more of these online.
• If you clench your jaw or grind your teeth at night your dentist will give you a night guard or bite plate.
• He will give you pain medication to use as needed.
If all these things don’t work then your dentist might suggest correcting the position of the teeth or even reshaping them. This is usually done by an orthodontist and it is done in the course of several years. Your dentist may also suggest other therapies if he thinks they are necessary. If your case is bad you may be given muscle relaxants, trycylic antidepressants and even sedatives. If your jaw clenches because you are stressed you will be advised to see a therapist to discuss what is making you depressed. As a last option your dentist may recommend surgery to repair or replace your TMJ joint.