TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint, which is the bone structure, muscles and connective tissues that surround the jaw and control chewing. When patients experience disorders of this joint, they are said to have a temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMD. Symptoms of TMD include pain and tenderness near the jaw, as well as popping or clicking in the joint when speaking or chewing. There are many ways of treating TMJ disorders in San Antonio, ranging from non-invasive therapy and bite splints to injections or surgery. Left untreated, however, TMJ disorders can lead to headaches, muscle pain, malocclusion and tooth damage from grinding or clenching.
Did you know…
that TMD alone is not a disorder, but instead a collection of disorders that affect the temporomandibular joint? It is the second most common pain-causing musculoskeletal condition in the U.S. (and San Antonio) according to the U.S. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, as many as 12 percent of Americans may suffer from some type of TMD, with women more then twice as likely to be affected than men. But despite the prevalence and wide availability of treatment, only one out every three people with TMD fails to seek treatment.
Do you wake up in the
morning with a sore jaw or a dull, constant headache?
You may be grinding or
clenching your teeth at night.
This is something we see daily!
Teeth grinding (called bruxism) does damage to your teeth and jaws. If it happens on a regular basis, it can erode tooth enamel, damage dental work, cause headaches, and jaw pain. There are several reasons why bruxism happens. While stress or anxiety can be a cause, it is commonly caused by an abnormal bite, crooked or missing teeth. The more back teeth you are missing the more pressure is put on the TMJ joint.
It is very important to have one of our doctors evaluate your specific needs to help with bruxism, but in general, here is what we suggest:
– Wear a mouth guard at night: We make custom, hard occlusal guards to be worn at night. These protect your teeth, dental work, and can aid with jaw pain. We DO NOT recommend over the counter soft mouth guards as they can make your issue worse.
– Relieve the stress: If you think stress is the cause, try
exercising, meditation, taking a warm bath, getting a spa treatment, or other ways you know will help you relax. Make an extra effort to relax right before bedtime.
– Relax your jaw: Grinding all night can make your jaw feel sore. Try to relieve the tension throughout the day by giving yourself mini jaw massages. Also, try not to chew on non-food items (like the end of pencils or your nails) to give your jaw a break.
– Be aware: If you find yourself grinding your teeth during the day, try to stay aware of it and relax your jaw as soon as you notice you’re doing it. If you think you are grinding your teeth at night, come see us to make a plan of action.
Call 210-691-1333 today!
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if San Antonio TMJ treatment is right for me?
You will first need to be formally examined and diagnosed with TMJ disorder. Your San Antonio dentist at De Zavala Dental will evaluate the extent of the condition and determine what course of treatment is best for you. Usually, the initial approach involves conservative treatments, such as self-care, physical therapy and bite guards. Medications may also be used to relax the jaw or relieve pain. Patients who do not respond to conservative treatments may be considered for surgery or joint injections.
What should I expect if I undergo treatment for TMJ
TMJ treatment varies from patient to patient, so your experience may be very different than someone else’s. You’ll probably be asked to adopt certain lifestyle changes to help facilitate rehabilitation in your jaw. For example, you may be asked to avoid sudden jaw movements, such as yelling or yawning. You may also need to begin sleeping on your back and take steps to reduce your stress levels.
Will I need to follow any special post-care instructions while being treated for TMJ?
Your post-treatment care instructions will vary according to the type of treatment you receive. If you undergo an aggressive treatment, such as surgery, you may be temporarily subject to an all-liquid diet. You’ll also need to apply ice to the face to minimize swelling and also keep the surgical site clean and dry.