Do you wake up with frequent migraines? Does your jaw pop or click when you eat chewy or hard foods? You may have TMJ. Dr. Catherine Wilder and Dr. Lauren Shepard offer TMJ treatment in Katy, TX. Temporomandibular joint disorders are caused by dysfunction in or damage to the joints that connect the jawbone to the skull. Addressing TMJ disorders help restore the smile and stop pain and damage caused by dysfunction in the temporomandibular joint.
Drs. Wilder and Shepard offer a range of treatments including custom oral appliances for the treatment of complex bite problems. We seek to address the root problem of a TMJ disorder so that we can work with you to restore your oral health and long-term stability in your natural smile.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorders can affect the jaw, teeth, and facial muscles in a variety of ways:
- Teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism)
- Jaw pain
- Chronic headaches and migraines
- Difficulty chewing
- Tooth wear
- Jaw clicking or popping
- Restricted jaw mobility
Please let our office know if you have noticed any of these symptoms. We can examine your smile to find any areas of wear or dysfunction that indicate a bite problem and require treatment.
The Causes of TMJ
It can be hard to determine exactly what causes a particular case of TMJ. One of the most common reasons is bruxism, or grinding and clenching of the teeth. Stress, medication, and other factors cause bruxism. The actions of grinding and clenching wear down the disc in your jaw joint. It’s this disc that makes the joint track smoothly. Trauma or dislocation of the jaw or the disc is another common cause. If you have certain types of arthritis, they damage the disc and cause inflammation of the joint, leading to TMJ issues.
An uneven bite is another prominent cause of TMJ. If your bite is uneven, the two portions of your jaw don’t come together properly. Your jaw joint has to move in a way that isn’t completely natural to ensure those pieces of the jaw come together to perform their necessary functions.
TMJ Treatment Options
There are multiple options for patients with TMJ disorders:
- Jaw Exercises and Stress Management: We recommend jaw exercise and stress and anxiety management for patients with mild TMJ symptoms. In addition, taking pain and anti-inflammatory medicine as well as relaxing the jaw are small steps that can reduce mild TMJ pain.
- Nightguards: Nightguards are custom oral appliances that act like mouthguards. They are worn at night to stop tooth and jaw pain as well as jaw clenching and teeth grinding. Bruxism, or teeth grinding, is a common symptom of TMJ disorders. Over time, teeth grinding wears down the tooth enamel and causes pain in the jaw and face. Nightguards reduce jaw pressure and prevent chips or cracks in the tooth enamel.
- Laser Therapy: We use infrared light, or a laser, to alleviate jaw and facial pain. This light can also reduce inflammation and stimulate blood flow. Laser therapy delivers infrared light directly to painful areas of the face, including the jaw and facial muscles. This light also helps to heal nerves and stimulate collagen production.
TMJ Treatment FAQs
How do you know if your TMJ is severe?
If your jaw is painful, or if you have trouble fully opening or closing it, we advise that you seek medical assistance immediately. These are all signs of severe TMJ. Possible causes and remedies for your issue might be discussed with your doctor, dentist, or a TMJ specialist. Call our office today to schedule an appointment, or discuss potential treatment methods.
How do you relax your jaw when sleeping?
Put a warmed piece of cloth on the side of your face to relax your jaw. Stretching and massaging is also a great way to relax your facial and jaw muscles.
Can TMJ take months to heal?
The majority of TMJ symptoms usually go away in three weeks or less. However, depending on how severe the underlying issue is, some TMJ conditions, particularly those brought on by arthritis or bruxism, can endure months or even years.
What happens if TMJ doesn’t go away?
Without treatment, TMJ can cause the jaw to lose its bone mass and cartilage permanently. As the jawbone decays, the cartilage that supports the joint will also deteriorate. This leads to uncomfortable jaw friction and raises the risk of jaw dislocation.
Request a Dental Consultation
Do you suffer from frequent headaches or jaw pain? Schedule a dental appointment with Dr. Shepard and Dr. Wilder on our website or call Katy Smile Design at 281.843.9814.