If you suffer from frequent pain in the head, jaw, or neck, you may suffer from a TMJ disorder. The TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is the joint that connects your lower jaw to the rest of the skull. When this joint is stressed, misaligned, or malfunctioning, it can cause serious pain and discomfort.
Common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds in the jaw joint when you open and close your mouth
- Frequent headaches
- Pain in the neck, face, or shoulders
- Jaw pain, especially when biting, chewing, or speaking
- A locked or stuck jaw
- Difficulty opening your mouth very wide
Pain in the head and neck is usually caused by an imbalance in the muscles of the head and neck. This imbalance creates excessive forces on the joints that work the mandible (temporomandibular joints or TMJs) and causes them to malfunction resulting in clicking, popping or even locking of the joints.
The pain may be:
- In the forehead, behind the eye
- In the temporalis muscle in the area of the temples
- In the masseter muscles found over each cheek by the molars
- At the angle of the mandible
- In the muscles of the back of the neck
- In the shoulder area on either side of the neck (trapezius muscles)
- In the joint itself (in front of the ear)
Treatment includes determining why the muscles became tense and helping the muscles relax by removing the stimulus that caused the original tensing. Chiropractic treatment, physical therapy and massage therapy can help to temporarily relax the muscles, but if the pain is chronic, these procedures are only a short term cure.
The cause must be determined and dealt with. If a “bad bite” is causing the muscles to work constantly to position the jaw in the wrong place, the bite is the underlying cause and should be treated.
Our dentist will carefully evaluate your jaw to determine the cause of the TMJ disorder and pain. The treatment will then depend on the cause of the disorder. TMJ treatment may include physical therapy, massage therapy, or chiropractic treatment, which can help to relax the muscles and alleviate pain. This may be only a temporary relief, however, if the TMJ disorder is a result of a misaligned bite or bruxism (teeth grinding and clenching).
Dr. Carlson may recommend dental treatment to correct your bite or a bite guard (night guard) to prevent bruxism. Treatment for the TMJ can work to properly position the jaw and alleviate the symptoms of TMJ disorder.
For more information on TMJ treatment, we welcome you to contact 5 Star Dental Group by calling 210-494-3511. We look forward to caring for your smile!