TMJ Treatment in Aloha, Oregon
Do you often wake up with headaches? Have your jaw and head muscles been sore lately? Do your ears often feel stuffed up for no apparent reason? Do you hear a clicking noise when you eat?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have TMJ disorder. If you do, Dr. Erica Bronitsky and her team at Bronitsky Family Dentistry can help.
What is TMJ?
“TMJ” stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. If you put your fingers in front of your ears and open and close your mouth, you can feel this joint working. TMJ is also a term to describe problems with this joint. Sometimes, problems with this joint are called temporomandibular disorders (TMD).
What causes TMJ?
A person can have pain in this joint for many reasons. The joint works hard every day when you talk, eat and yawn. TMJ can be caused by a constant clenching of the facial muscles, or a constant grinding or clenching of teeth. These are often the result of stress, and they place an enormous amount of pressure on the joint. It can be caused by arthritis or by an injury to the head, such as whiplash.
Are there other symptoms of TMJ?
As if constant headaches and jaw pain aren’t enough, some people who suffer with TMJ have symptoms that are even more serious and debilitating. They may have migraines, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), vertigo and even numbness in the fingertips. If TMJ goes untreated, it can cause damage to the other head muscles. And, because the jaw joint is damaged, it has to work harder to perform basic functions, such as talking and eating, so the pain may get worse. The ball and socket of the jaw may even become dislocated. Whether you have one or many of these symptoms, TMJ makes it hard to enjoy life!
How can I take care of myself when I have TMJ?
If you have jaw pain, there are a few things you can try at home.
- Stay away from sticky, hard and chewy foods. Stick to soft food that is easy to chew.
- If you notice that your TMJ is aggravated when you are under stress, you may want to concentrate on finding ways to reduce your stress and finding hobbies that relax you. Sign up for yoga, take walks and meditate.
- Get out of the habit of grinding your teeth. While many people do this in their sleep, you may catch yourself doing it in the middle of a stressful day. When you are aware that you grind your teeth, you can find ways to stop this habit.
- Try over-the-counter medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. However, some of these medications can be bad for you if you take them all the time, so you should talk to your doctor and let him know how often you take these pain relievers.
- Try using heat or ice on the jaw. You may find that one helps more than the other.
- Avoid putting stress on the jaw joint. Avoid behaviors, such as resting the phone in between your jaw and shoulder and holding your jaw in your hand when leaning forward.
How can my dentist help with my TMJ?
Sometimes, the pain can be so severe that these tips simply aren’t enough to help. There are a few ways Dr. Bronitsky can help a patient with TMJ. Medication may be an option. It may help for the pain and can also be used to relax the muscles in the jaw. Physical therapy may help to strengthen the jaw.
Another effective treatment is a bite splint. To make a bite splint, Dr. Bronitsky will make a mold of your jaw in its natural and relaxed position. Bite splints are made of plastic, and TMJ patients wear it while they sleep.
It fits over the teeth and can keep bottom and top teeth from touching, which prevents tooth grinding (one cause of TMJ pain). Bite splints can be used to relieve pressure on the jaw by realigning the jaw.
While this might sound uncomfortable, the patient will get used to wearing the splint within a matter of days. And, the amount of relief the patient gets from a splint more than makes up for any discomfort.
If the teeth are out of alignment, full mouth reconstruction may be necessary to get teeth back into the proper position. In very serious cases, a complete reconstruction of the jaw may be needed, which requires surgery.
TMJ can mean constant headaches and constant pain. It can also stop you from living the comfortable, happy life you deserve. But you don’t have to live with TMJ anymore. Make an appointment today with Dr. Erica Bronitsky and Bronitsky Family Dentistry to get help with your TMJ!