Don’t let Discomfort Stop You

You probably think of an orthodontist as someone who fixes crooked teeth with braces. They can also treat a common dental issue: temporal mandibular joint disorder, or TMJ.

What is TMJ?

Your temporomandibular joints, or jaw joints, connect your lower jawbone to your skull. As you may imagine, these joints get quite a lot of use throughout the day as you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. Pain in and around these joints can be unpleasant and may even restrict movement.

The causes of TMJ can range from grinding your teeth, clenching your jaw, a stressful lifestyle, as well as the jaw bone and joint, wear down as you age. Other factors are hyper-mobile ligaments, arthritic conditions and cranial sacral distortions.

What are the symptoms of TMJ?

Some physical symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Extreme jaw pain and discomfort,
  • Headaches, facial pain,
  • Clicking of the jaw at the joints,
  • Limited jaw mobility, excessively worn out teeth,
  • Locking jaw
  • Earaches, and ringing in the ears.

Symptoms can get worse at night because your muscles can’t relax. Jaw problems can also make existing sleep issues (such as sleep apnea) worse.

If you notice any of these symptoms, let Dr. Timock or Dr. Wire know. He can help determine if your symptoms are a result of TMD or have a different cause.

teeth models

Treatment Options

There are several treatment options available through orthodontics for TMJ. Treatment depends on your overall health, medical history, medication tolerance, mouth appliances, and how bad your disorder is.

Common treatments for TMJ include resting the joints of your jaw, stress management techniques to reduce clenching of your jaw, pain medications, mouth exercises, heat and cold compresses, and orthopedic appliances such as mouth guards to prevent grinding your teeth.

Beyond pain relief, orthodontic treatment can give you a long-term fix.

If you’re suffering from the pain and discomfort of TMJ, come see Dr. Timock or Dr. Wire for a consultation.

Tips to Avoid TMD

If you don’t have any of these symptoms, let’s keep it that way! There are some simple things you can do at home or work to prevent TMD from occurring in your jaw joints:

  • Relax your face – remember the rule: “Lips together, teeth apart.”
  • Avoid grinding your teeth
  • Avoid constant gum chewing
  • Don’t cradle the phone receiver between your head and shoulder – either use a headset or hold the receiver to your ear
  • Chew food evenly on both sides of your mouth
  • Do not sit with your chin rested on your hand
  • Practice good posture – keep your head up, back straight