Temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD) occur when there is stress or damage to the joints that connect the skull and the jaw bone. TMD is a bite disorder that can lead to jaw pain, headaches, and tooth wear. We provide TMJ treatment in San Antonio, TX, to restore the smile and make daily life more comfortable for our patients. In addition to TMJ treatment, we provide restorative dentistry services to new and existing patients in our San Antonio, TX, dental office.
The temporomandibular joints act like sliding hinges to help you bite and chew. If you have TMJ, you can also damage the disc that cushions the jaw joint. Damage to this cartilage can affect the mouth, face, and upper body.
What is Bruxism?
Bruxism, or teeth clenching and grinding, can be a common way of dealing with everyday stress. While most bruxism occurs during sleep, some patients can clench and grind their teeth during the day. During periods of bruxism, muscles are overworked and can cause pain. Managing bruxism early can reduce the potential for permanent damage.
Many patients may only experience minor damage as a result of bruxism because they grind their teeth infrequently. However, more severe grinding can lead to more dental problems. Teeth clenching and grinding can lead to jaw muscle pain, premature tooth wear, and TMJ disorders.
Signs of TMJ Disorders
Knowing the signs of TMJ disorders will help you determine if you need dental care. There are multiple symptoms of TMD:
- Bleeding gums
- Teeth clenching and grinding (bruxism)
- Jaw pain and tenderness
- Morning headaches
- Pain when yawning or opening your mouth
- Jaw popping and clicking when eating
- Earaches and hearing problems
Please get in touch with us if you begin noticing any of these symptoms. Anxiety, injury, and arthritis can contribute to the development of TMD. Problems like arthritis can affect the TMJ joint, leading to stiffness and discomfort.
TMJ Treatment in San Antonio, TX
TMD can affect the jaw muscles, temple, ears, head, and neck. Specific muscles move the jaw when chewing. When bruxism occurs, these muscles become strained. This strain can produce muscle knots, inflammation, and pain.
The goal of TMJ treatment is to reduce symptoms and alleviate negative behaviors. Poor sleep habits, high caffeine intake, poor stress management, and an incorrect bite can worsen symptoms.
Oral Appliance Therapy
Our dental office can create a TMJ night guard if you notice that you wake up with jaw pain and headaches. This treatment is also called oral appliance therapy. During this therapy, you wear a night guard during sleep.
A night guard can cover the upper or lower teeth. It prevents the teeth from grinding together and relieves pressure from the jaw. Wearing a custom night guard can relieve jaw stress and train your muscles to stay relaxed during the day. Night guards can also prevent tooth wear due to teeth clenching and grinding.
Physical Therapy and Medication
In addition to night guards, we recommend physical therapy and medication. Muscle pain therapy may involve massage, hot and cold compresses, and stretching exercises. Treatment can also include muscle relaxants and anti-inflammatories.
Crooked teeth and an uneven bite can contribute to TMD. Misaligned teeth can put increased pressure on some teeth more than others. If you have crooked teeth, you are more likely to develop TMD. Our office provides clear braces to straighten crooked teeth. Creating a more even bite relieves pressure from the teeth and jaw.
In the most severe cases of TMD, we will refer you to an oral surgeon for treatment. Steroid injections, open joint repair, or restructuring can address severe TMD.
How to Treat TMJ Flare-Ups
TMJ symptoms can often “flare up” when you feel stressed. There are multiple things you can do if you feel pain and discomfort due to TMD:
Use a Warm Compress
We recommend heating pads on your jaw joints when you feel pain. Apply heat to your jaw for 15 minutes at a time. Heat will relax your jaw muscles and relieve pain. If you have just injured your joints, we recommend ice. However, after the fact, heat will warm up and relax the muscles.
Prescribed muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety medications, and pain medication can help if you have anxiety or TMJ pain. We may prescribe muscle relaxants if you find it hard to relax your jaw before sleep. If you have anxiety, you may receive medication from your psychiatrist. Lastly, you can take pain medications when you have a flare-up and feel pain in the face and jaw.
Do Gentle Stretches
Gentle facial stretches can help reduce stress in the facial muscles. Stretching the arms, shoulders, and back can also help work the muscles in the upper body. Stretching the upper body can reduce tension and chronic pain.
Relaxation techniques can help prepare you for your upcoming day or sleep. Feeling more relaxed before bedtime, particularly, can stop nightly teeth grinding. If you notice yourself unconsciously clenching your jaw, change your jaw position. Place the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth to relax your jaw. Relaxing your jaw will help prevent further damage and joint and muscle pain.
Notice Your Posture
Bad posture can worsen TMD symptoms. Hunching over puts more pressure on the neck, back, and jaw. It also pushes the head and lower jaw forward, creating stress in the jaw joint.
Roll your shoulders back and keep your head up when sitting or standing. You can also relax your jaw while you sit up straight.
Eat Soft Foods
Eating a soft diet can help reduce jaw tension. We may recommend avoiding hard or crunchy foods as you get TMJ treatment. Pasta, mashed potatoes, and other soft foods help relax and reduce pressure on your jaw and TMJ.
Contact Us Today
Do you think you may have a TMJ disorder? Address jaw pain and headaches today. Call Smile Land Family Dental at 210-939-9689. You may also schedule a dental appointment with Dr. Abazid on our website. Please let us know if you have any questions about TMJ treatment. We will happily answer them for you at your next dental visit.