TMJ Therapy in Norman
You may spend most of your life unaware of the important little triangular-shaped joints located in front of your ears. Lined with cartilage, these joints move with a smooth, gliding motion. Under normal conditions, they join your lower jaw and temporal bone, allowing your mouth to open and close easily. However, stress or an improper bite can cause the joints to dysfunction, exposing nerve endings to create pain. In fact, the temporomandibular joint is highly sensitive to overall physical, emotional, and psychological stress. It is affected by the mechanics of your bite and the condition of your jaw muscles. A little extra stress, a little extra fatigue, a little change in your bite, and you may temporarily knock the whole system out of balance. The resulting TMJ disorder, or TMD, can create a variety of mild to severe symptoms, from jaw clicking and minor discomfort to sharp pain in your temple, ear, neck, and shoulders.
The condition is very common in our culture, so we evaluate every patient for TMJ dysfunction at their regular dental exam. If we detect a problem, our goals are to arrest it, protect teeth from further damage, and correct underlying bite misalignment. Therapy may involve fitting you with a physiologic bite appliance, suggesting ways to alleviate stress, and recommending symptom relief measures. Typically, TMJ patients need to avoid chewing gum or hard, chewy food, take small bites, and alternate chewing between both sides of the mouth. Good nutrition will help the joint heal more quickly; good posture will also help relieve discomfort. A straight back, relaxed neck, and side-sleeping position are also helpful. To relieve soreness, light temple and jaw massage will stimulate circulation and relax the muscles. If pain is present, we suggest alternating moist heat and cold for 20 minutes to further increase circulation. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories or analgesics can be very helpful as well.
For more information about TMJ, TMD, or neuromuscular dentistry, call our Norman, OK dental office. We want to help you receive the relief you deserve.
TMJ Disorder FAQs
If your jaw clicks or pops when you open and close your mouth, you can get the relief you need from your uncomfortable symptoms with TMJ therapy in Norman. Although you look forward to less pain and improved jaw function, it’s normal to have several questions about the treatment before you’re ready to commit to it. We’ll take the time to address any apprehensions during your initial consultation. While you wait for your appointment, here are the answers to a few of the most common questions we’re asked to help ease any worries about the road ahead.
What is TMJ?
“TMJ” is an abbreviation for your temporomandibular joint, which is on either side of your face and connects your jaw to your skull. When the joint doesn’t function correctly, it’s referred to as a TMJ or TMD disorder. The disorder can cause many painful and uncomfortable symptoms, like facial tenderness, headaches, or your jaw locking in one position. No matter the cause, you don’t need to let the symptoms impact your quality of life.
What are the Symptoms of a TMJ Disorder?
The symptoms of a TMJ disorder can be quite diverse and vary from person-to-person. Common signs of the condition include:
- Pain near the jaw joints, face, or around the ears.
- Clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth.
- Jaw locking in an opened or closed position.
- Pain while chewing.
- Neck stiffness or aches.
- Migraines or headaches.
- Ear pain or ringing.
What Causes a TMJ Disorder?
There are various factors that can contribute to a TMJ disorder, like arthritis or a past injury. It can also be caused by a poorly aligned bite or a bad habit of grinding and clenching the teeth. Your dentist will identify the cause to create a customized treatment plan. In some cases, your TMJ therapy might be combined with other treatments to address the underlying cause of the disorder, like improving your bite or relieving stress.
How can stress affect TMJ Disorders?
High stress levels and TMJ disorders often go hand in hand. Stress is known to cause teeth grinding and clenching, also known as bruxism. The bad habit not only puts unnecessary pressure on your teeth but also your joints. This can cause the muscles and structures of your jaw to become irritated and inflamed, which can cause your symptoms to worsen.
How Can I Get Relief from My Symptoms?
If you’re ready to stop your jaw pain and improve your quality of life, your first step is to contact our office to schedule your consultation with Dr. Carmen. He has undergone advanced training in TMJ and neuromuscular dentistry to create customized treatment plans catering to each patient’s needs. Often, he’ll recommend an oral appliance to reposition your jaw into a more comfortable position. Depending on your specific needs, he may recommend additional care as well, like stress-relieving exercises or consuming a soft diet. If your pain is persistent, he will discuss additional changes to your lifestyle to get the relief you need.