If you are suffering from a sore jaw, you may have temporomandibular joint disorders, often referred to as TMJ. Patients with TMJ may also have headaches, earaches, or popping or clicking with jaw movement.
These symptoms can be excruciating, so you should seek treatment from your dentist as soon as possible. Dr. Sulekha Agrawal, a dentist in Columbia, MD, describes three different options for TMJ treatment.
Many patients with TMJ grind or clench their teeth, often as an unconscious habit. This behavior, called bruxism, commonly occurs while a patient is asleep. The grating of the top and bottom teeth against each other creates pressure that can lead to TMJ symptoms.
For this reason, dentists often recommend that patients who grind their teeth wear a customized oral appliance, such as a mouthguard, overnight. The appliance can protect teeth from damage and reduce pressure caused by unconscious bruxism. This can alleviate the effects of TMJ.
If teeth are crooked or the jaw is misaligned, the patient may suffer from abnormal wear and tear on teeth and the jaw. This can cause painful symptoms associated with TMJ.
Straightening teeth with orthodontics, such as Invisalign, can align the bite and ultimately relieve TMJ pain at the completion of the treatment. Patients who grind their teeth may not find Invisalign suitable for them, but your dentist may recommend other methods to straighten teeth.
Stress Relief and Exercise
Teeth grinding and clenching often occur subconsciously, but the behavior is linked to stress. For this reason, stress relief methods may reduce the pain associated with TMJ. Your dentist can suggest appropriate activities that can help lower your stress levels.
Your dentist might also recommend specified exercises for your jaw. Strengthening the jaw muscles with oral exercise can make the muscles more relaxed and therefore less likely to cause TMJ-related pain.
At-home pain relief can come from small lifestyle changes too. This includes choosing softer foods to eat that will be less taxing for your jaw. You can also use a heating pad or an ice pack wrapped in a towel for pain management purposes.
TMJ Treatment Options in Columbia, MD
Columbia Family Dental Care offers TMJ treatment and other general dentistry solutions to patients in Columbia, MD. Dr. Agrawal also specializes in cosmetic and restorative dentistry for patients of all ages. To schedule an appointment with us, contact our office online or reach us by phone at 410.221.3097.