TMJ & Teeth Grinding

Symptoms like pain in the face, jaw, and head may be an indication that you're suffering from TMJ, also referred to as TMD. This condition can be complicated to identify and diagnose, and like many people, you may be unsure what TMJ is and how it can be treated.

What Causes TMJ?

TMJ is the acronym for the temporomandibular joint. At some point, this joint may suffer excessive stress and start to break down, resulting in temporomandibular joint disorder.

Your temporomandibular joint is located where your upper and lower jaw come together, right in front of your ears. TMJ is the term most people use to refer to symptoms and disorders involving the jaw joint. You may also hear the condition referred to as TMD.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?

The symptoms of TMJ are often connected to problems with the function of your jaw joint. If you have TMJ symptoms, you already know they can have a serious, detrimental effect on your quality of life.

Before we talk to you about treating your TMD, it helps us to know exactly what symptoms you're experiencing. Some of the most common signs to look for are:

  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • Chronic headaches
  • Pain or pressure in the ears
  • Clicking or popping sound when opening and closing your jaw

How Do You Treat the Symptoms of TMJ?

There are a few ways that TMD symptoms can be treated. Before Dr. Skinkys develops a treatment plan, we need to first identify any issues that contribute to your symptoms. He will evaluate your TMJ symptoms to collect the necessary information to make an accurate diagnosis.

The goals of these treatments are to decrease pain, improve function and mobility of the jaw, and allow you to resume normal daily life. We achieve these goals by implementing a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses physical, emotional, and psychological factors.

Our approach is to first look for the most effective and least invasive therapies. Using conservative treatment techniques, we can help you avoid the need for extensive dental treatment, orthodontics, and surgery.

Behavior modification, medication, physical therapy, jaw exercise, and dental orthotics have proven to be safe and effective in the majority of TMD cases. Research shows that over 50 percent of patients treated with these types of techniques show few or no ongoing symptoms of TMD.

Steps You Can Take to Reduce TMJ Symptoms

As part of your treatment, Dr. Skinkys may also recommend the following strategies:

  • Try not to open your jaw too widely when yawning.
  • Rest your jaw by staying away from foods that put stress on the jaw like chewing gum and tough meats.
  • Relax your jaw if you become conscious of teeth grinding or clenching.
  • Try to sleep on your back to avoid any stress on your face and jaw.
  • Use ice packs and/or massage sore muscles.

Teeth Grinding Treatment

Probably the most popular treatment for grinding and clenching is a custom-made device referred to as an occlusal splint. The appliance fits over your front teeth and is worn at night to prevent your teeth from coming into contact with each other.

Occlusal splints cannot stop the action of grinding, but they will prevent adverse effects and damage. A splint also does not address the problem of daytime clenching and grinding, but stress management and some of the strategies discussed above can be very effective.

Get the Expert Help You Need

Dr. Skinkys and our team understand the negative impact that TMJ and its symptoms can have on your life. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms we talked about here, please contact our office to arrange a complimentary, commitment-free consultation.