Maybe you wake up with a headache more often than not. Maybe you’ve gotten in the habit of grabbing a couple pain relievers before you brush your teeth.
Maybe you are fine until you fix some breakfast. You take that first delicious bite … followed by the sensation of pain in your jaw.
Your pain isn’t going away until you treat it, and we don’t mean taking more pain medicine. Your headaches and your other pains may be symptoms of a problem with your jaw.
If you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, then you should contact the team at Fairhope Cosmetic Dentistry. Your help can start with a phone call to the dentist.
Recognizing a TMJ disorder
TMJ is short for temporomandibular joint. This joint is a ball-and-socket joint that connects your jawbone with the rest of your skull.
This joint is what allows you to open and close your mouth, which we would all agree is important if we want to speak or eat.
Some TMJ issues are minor enough that you can recover on your own without any special treatment. However, you may not realize that some of the persistent problems you have been having may have originated in your jaw.
Here are some questions that may help you know if you should seek treatment for a possible TMJ disorder:
– Do you have constant jaw pain throughout the day?
– Does your jaw hurt when you eat or shortly after you finish a meal?
– Does your jaw feel sore or tender when you wake up in the morning?
– Do you often wake up with headaches, including migraines?
– Do you notice that you have frequent pain in your neck?
– Do your shoulders hurt often?
– Do you have frequent earaches?
If any of those things is happening to you or you are experiencing more than one of the symptoms mentioned above, it may be time to talk to your dentist about a possible TMJ problem and treatment.
Bruxism and TMJ problems
Bruxism is one of the most common causes of TMJ disorders. Bruxism refers to clenching or grinding your teeth together.
This is bad for your teeth because it can wear down your enamel. It’s also bad for your jaw because it can put added stress on your joint as well as the muscles and tendons around your jaw. This is why your pain can extend into the muscles in your face, neck, and shoulders.
You may be thinking, “I don’t grind my teeth.” As far as you are aware, that may be true. What you may not know is that you could be clenching or grinding your teeth without realizing it is happening.
Some people do this as an unconscious reaction to stressful situations. This may be why you feel pain in your jaw after a bad meeting at work or after you’ve had to deal with a particularly difficult customer.
Many people grind their teeth in their sleep, too. This would explain why you may wake up with headaches or feel jaw pain and tenderness in the morning more than other times of day.
If you live in or near Fairhope, you will be glad to know that our dental staff has TMJ treatments that can help you.
If your TMJ problem is the result of grinding your teeth together, we can create a splint to ease your pain. We offer both repositioning and stabilization splints in our practice.
Repositioning splints do exactly what you would expect. They change the position of your jaw. This is done to alleviate the pain that occurs when you put added pressure on your TMJ.
Stabilization splints prevent you from grinding your teeth together. You can wear one of these at night when you are asleep or during the day when you are dealing the stresses of work or other relationships.
In more severe cases, a splint may not be enough to relieve your TMJ disorder. For those patients, we may recommend full-mouth rehabilitation. This can include reshaping your teeth with veneers or tooth recontouring
In other cases, you may also benefit from occlusal therapy. This is a treatment that changes your bite (how your teeth fit together when you close your mouth).
Seek help to end your pain
You shouldn’t be swallowing handfuls of pain medicine just to get through the day. You shouldn’t worry that your next meal will leave your feeling sore for the next hour.
You have been living with your TMJ pain for long enough. Get treated and start feeling better.