Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) presents as a distressing pain in the jaw joint, given its frequent use in our daily activities such as talking, eating, and drinking. This distinguishes it as more than just a bothersome pain, as the term ‘debilitating pain’ implies. For individuals unfamiliar with TMJ disorder, an unexpected episode can be quite distressing, compounding anxiety alongside joint discomfort. The primary cause of TMJ disorder or flare-ups is often excessive strain on the jaw joints and associated muscle groups responsible for chewing, swallowing, and speech. At Savannah Dental Solutions, we understand the debilitating effects of TMJ disorder and bruxism on our patients’ daily lives.
Identifiable culprits include unrestrained use of chewing gum, overeating, and bruxism, or nighttime teeth grinding. If jaw pain arises from excessive gum chewing, cutting back can lead to relief within a few days. Similarly, moderating food intake, especially hard foods, can alleviate pain upon initial signs of discomfort. However, the timeline for those grappling with bruxism is less clear…
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder and Bruxism
Teeth grinding during sleep can lead to problems such as abnormal decay, rapid tooth dulling, and damage to bridges and crowns. While these issues are apparent, the constant pressure on the jawline is often overlooked. Despite the jaw’s considerable strength, it has limitations. Many individuals are unaware of their nocturnal grinding unless a partner notices or they develop TMJ. Bruxism, often linked to stress and anxiety, can be addressed through therapy, medication, and meditation. Improvement in mental health can alleviate bruxism, but sometimes, damage may already be done.
TMJ disorder commonly results from untreated bruxism, with prolonged bruxism exacerbating strain and potential damage to the jaw joints. Flare-ups bring pain lasting from days to weeks, with noticeable symptoms including jaw line pain, earaches, toothaches, headaches, facial swelling, and limited jaw movement. Some individuals may even experience lockjaw and neck/shoulder pain. Over-the-counter painkillers may manage consistent pain for years, but without addressing the root cause—bruxism.
Wearing a mouthguard can, in certain instances, help retrain muscles to maintain the jaw in the correct position. For some patients, ongoing nighttime use of the appliance may be necessary.
Other non-surgical remedies for TMJ might involve:
- Gentle jaw stretching and relaxation exercises that can be performed at home. This is a suitable option for TMJ linked to stress, excessive gum chewing, or temporary pain.
- Tooth reconstruction is particularly beneficial for those with collapsed bites, missing teeth, or significant enamel wear. This procedure restores teeth to their proper size, height, and shape, aligning the jaws correctly, alleviating TMJ pain, and enhancing the overall appearance of the smile.
- Invisalign or traditional braces may be employed to address crowded and misaligned teeth.
- Alternative treatments encompass stress-relief exercises, physical therapy, modifying oral habits (such as gum chewing, ice consumption, nail-biting, etc.), and in severe cases, surgical intervention may be necessary.
Savannah Dental Solutions is a top name among dentists in the Savannah area, known for focusing on the dental needs of clients of all ages. Conveniently located in the Medical Arts Center, their range of services is unrivaled in Chatham County.