Teeth Clenching and Grinding
Jaw pain, also known as temporomandibular joint dysfunction or TMJD, is common and can occur in people of all ages. It may come and go in some patients or be consistently present with others. Sometimes we can pinpoint the root of the problem: a recent accident, new dentistry, or trauma to the face can all contribute to jaw pain. In many cases, however, the cause is a mystery.
Symptoms of TMJ or TMJD
In addition to pain, other symptoms may accompany conditions related to your jaw. Some of them include:
- Locking joints
- A misaligned bite
- Neck aches
- Shoulder pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Facial tension
- Tooth sensitivity
Some patients experience more severe symptoms in the morning, right after waking. This can be due to a clenching and grinding habit called bruxism. Bruxism can exacerbate existing jaw problems or create new ones. It can also lead to worn, cracked teeth that feel sensitive when exposed to air or cold beverages.
If your teeth feel sensitive upon waking, you may have a teeth grinding habit you are not even aware of.
Diagnosing TMJD and Bruxism
Dr. Maria Kim will look at your symptoms along with common signs of bruxism: bite lines on the inside of your cheeks, worn teeth, short teeth, fractures, recession, and abfractions – wear at your gum line. People with a strong bite also sometimes develop bony growths under their tongue called tori. Facial (buccal) tori may also develop on your gums closest to your cheeks.
The symptoms of TMJD and bruxism can affect your quality of life. You may feel tired, sore, and moody. Living in constant pain can take its toll quickly, disrupting your concentration and healthy sleep patterns. It also poses a challenge to be able to speak, and chew comfortably, putting your nutrition and social life at risk.
Fortunately, at Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, we offer solutions to relieve your jaw pain and help you feel like yourself again.
Oral Appliance Therapy
One way to address your condition is to create an oral appliance called an occlusal splint, or nightguard. Splints work by creating a barrier between your upper and lower teeth to prevent damage from bruxism. They also guide your jaw into its ideal position to allow relief from muscle soreness and swelling. By adjusting your splint regularly, we can gradually move your jaw into a position that allows comfortable function and relaxed muscles.
Our splints are custom creations that fit well and are easy to get used to. Many patients report improved symptoms within one week of use. Splints can save thousands of dollars in dentistry by protecting your teeth from damage.
BOTOX Treatment for TMJD and Headaches
Our jaw muscles exert an enormous amount of force, even unconsciously. Inflammation in your jaw muscles may make it difficult for your jaw joints to align properly. Additionally, because of their strength, a clenching and grinding habit can cause fractured teeth that require dental crowns.
BOTOX works by inhibiting some of the strength from your jaw muscles. You will still be able to eat and speak without any problems, but your muscles will not be able to exert their maximum force. This can allow those muscles to relax, which helps your jaw find its correct alignment once again.
For those patients who suffer from headaches and migraines, BOTOX can provide relief by promoting relaxation in your facial muscles, as well. While BOTOX does not prevent headaches, it decreases the intensity.
For best results, the combined treatments of BOTOX and wearing a nightguard offer the greatest relief.
Do You Suffer from Jaw Pain, Migraines, or Headaches?
The sooner you seek treatment, the faster we can help you feel like yourself again. Call our Arcadia, CA dental office to schedule an evaluation with Maria Kim, DMD. We look forward to providing you with proper treatment so you can feel your best!