If you place your fingers right in front of your earlobes and move your mouth, those little hinges you feel are actually your jaw joint, or TMJ (temporomandibular joint). Like other joints in the body, it can sometimes develop problems due to stress, strain, injury, or arthritis, leading to what is called a TMJ disorder, or TMD. Symptoms can include a stiff and painful jaw, chronic headaches, and even neck and shoulder pain! If you’re dealing with any of these issues, Dr. Staten can provide the relief you need right here in Etna at Old School Dental. To schedule an appointment, contact us today.
During your regular checkups, Dr. Staten will examine your TMJ to make sure that everything is in good shape. If he suspects that you have a TMD, he’ll perform a few minor tests and might take a few X-rays to determine the root cause of your symptoms. From there, he can determine what would be the best course of treatment. For mild cases, stretching the facial muscles throughout the day can help, but for more severe TMD, he may recommend one of the treatments detailed below.
Often, the TMJ becomes strained because the alignment of the teeth prevents the joint and surrounding muscles from ever fully relaxing, leading to tension that radiates throughout the entire head (this is why TMD is one of the leading causes of headaches). Dr. Staten can help realign the bite by slightly reshaping a few key teeth so they come together and allow the joint to rest, which should lead to complete relief of any pain.
An occlusal splint is a therapeutic mouthguard that a TMD patient would be prescribed to wear to bed. It works by slightly repositioning the jaw in order to place it in a more relaxed and natural orientation. This kind of device can also help stop teeth grinding during sleep, which is another common TMD symptom. After a few months of consistent use, a patient should be able to go through their day without any persistent pain.