Jaw pain can consume your life. When you feel constant and unavoidable head and jaw discomfort, it becomes difficult to go about your days. Fortunately, Dynamic Dental offers solutions to chronic jaw pain.
Clenching & TMJ Therapy
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, the area connecting your lower jaw (mandible) to your skull (at the temporal bone). The temporomandibular joint controls many of your jaw functions, especially the way you chew and bite your teeth. The joint itself may be experiencing a problem and causing you pain. This is known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD), and can result from stress, chronic jaw clenching, and teeth grinding.
You may have TMD if you experience:
- Discomfort opening and closing your mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Your jaw sticking open or shut
- Chronic headaches or ear pain
- Clicking or popping sounds coming from your jaw
- Bruxism (teeth grinding)
These symptoms can be due to non-TMD-related health problems, but only your dentist can diagnose you and relieve your pain. We may suggest painkillers and compresses for the short term, and create you a custom night guard. Although severe instances may necessitate TMD surgery, behavioral treatments will generally change the way you use your jaw muscles to provide relief.
Bruxism / Night Guards
Countless adults (the majority) suffer from bruxism, chronic teeth grinding. The insidious aspect of bruxism is that patients generally don’t realize they are grinding. It tends to be subconscious. Have you ever caught yourself clenching while concentrating or working hard? We are most susceptible to bruxism while sleeping, when our jaws can grind unchecked. Grinding is terrible for your enamel, and can wear down teeth, create sensitivity, irritate gums and cause gum recession, bring on jaw pain, and disturb your partner’s sleep.
Your dentist will be able to recognize the telltale signs of bruxism after examining your teeth, and will recommend a night guard. This hard plastic tray will create a barrier between your upper and lower teeth while sleeping. Your night guard will be custom-made from an impression of your teeth, and will fit perfectly. A night guard will even last up to ten years.
Behaviorally, there are several exercises you can do to stop grinding. Try training your jaw to be free and easy; there’s no reason for it to be clenched throughout the day. Don’t chew gum or non-food objects (take that pen out of your mouth!) Alcoholic and caffeinated drinks also increase the chance that you will grind.
Malocclusions / Occlusal Adjustments
If you have chronically sore or lopsided-feeling jaws, you may need an occlusal adjustment. An adjustment will correct your bite alignment, which can become misaligned from loose, overly crowded, shifting, or missing teeth. An even bite (proper occlusion) will distribute pressure evenly and your teeth will meet correctly. Your dentist will scan your mouth to record bite registrations and uncover irregularities. This will allow your dentist to make a precise ooclusal adjustment. An occlusal adjustment is simple and only slightly uncomfortable. Your dentist will use a dental drill to file teeth. Mouthpieces will also be used to protect your teeth and help relax your jaw.