People suffering from severe jaw pain should consider seeing a TMJ dentist for relief. TMJ is a serious condition which starts out by causing mild jaw pain and spreading into the rest of the face and neck. In its mildest form, it will simply make a person feel like their jaw is sore when eating or upon waking up. Severe cases are so bad that a person cannot even open their mouth in the morning.
It is difficult to always know the cause of this condition but generally speaking it can be caused by a misaligned jaw or by grinding or clenching teeth at night. Unlike other oral health issues, it is difficult to avoid risk factors because they are not external. Instead, it is related to your body specifically.
A TMJ dentist can provide treatment to help mitigate or stop the symptoms, which may include:
- Severe headaches
- Sore jaw muscles
- Facial pain
- Neck pain
- Being unable to open your mouth
- Difficulty eating or speaking
It is important to schedule an initial examination to determine the exact cause of the pain. The dentist will rule out any other forms of infection first and make sure that the patient doesn't have a dental abscess or severe cavity that is causing the pain. If any of these oral health issues is identified they will be treated and the pain will likely be reduced or go away completely. If no other infection is found the symptoms are likely related to TMJ.
A TMJ dentist can treat the symptoms through several means. Light massage is often used to loosen the jaw muscles so that they aren't so tightly clenched. This will help to reduce the pain significantly. It is important to massage lightly and not too aggressively. Additionally, there are stretches that can be done at home to loosen the muscles and prevent them from tightening up. An experienced dental professional will teach a patient these exercises and walk them through the process which can help effectively relieve the symptoms.
One of the easiest ways to prevent the symptoms of TMJ is to have a custom mouth guard created at the dentist office. This mouth guard can be worn at night and is designed to fit perfectly over your existing teeth. The design is comfortable enough to sleep in and will make a significant difference. The purpose of the guard is to prevent the top and bottom teeth from touching each other. This eliminates the possibility of grinding teeth at night. It also inhibits the mouth's ability to firmly clench teeth together. The forced separation will keep muscles loose which means they will not be so tight or sore in the morning. This form of treatment will reduce a person's overall pain and helps to keep the jaw loose enough to where it can be opened without any problems.
At times, a TMJ dentist may need to explore other forms of treatment. If the mouth guard is not producing enough results there may be other things causing the TMJ that need to be explored. When this is the case a custom treatment plan will be created to ensure that the patient can live pain-free.
Regardless of the treatment options a TMJ dentist can help a patient address the factors causing TMJ and help them reduce or remove the symptoms altogether.