Your temporomandibular joints hinge your jaw, and work in concert with ligaments and muscles to allow you to open your mouth, chew food, and speak. These sophisticated ball and socket joints also have a small cartilage disk to allow the joints to slip a little while you grind tough foods.
TMJ disorder is a blanket term used to describe pain or inflammation issues in the joints. This discomfort associated can often have a serious negative impact on quality of life.
TMJ disorder is often associated with a persistent dull ache in front of your ears or near your temples. It could also result in pain when opening and closing your mouth, biting down hard or chewing.
Grinding your teeth at night can cause significant tension in your jaw muscles and ligaments as well as inflammation in the joints. This can significantly increase your chances of developing TMJ disorder. Other potential sources could also include a past dislocation in one or both joints, arthritis or general inflammation issues.
Here at Craniofacial Pain Center Of Colorado we often employ a two-stage treatment strategy to help improve TMJ disorder symptoms
The first step of treatment focuses on modifying basic lifestyle habits. This calls for eating softer foods, taking over the counter anti-inflammatory medication and using heat packs to relax muscle tension.
Your orthodontist might prescribe a custom fitted night guard if your TMJ disorder is directly linked to grinding your teeth. The night guard conforms comfortably to your mouth and allows enough slip when grinding your teeth that it doesn’t lock up the muscles. It also helps protect the biting surface of your teeth.
If you don’t experience relief from your symptoms, in a few weeks the orthodontist might advocate more advanced treatment options. This could involve anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers or rehabilitation exercises. If the problem persists, surgical intervention might be called for.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, you should call Craniofacial Pain Center Of Colorado’s office in Arvada, Colorado at 303.421.2696 to schedule an appointment.