Does your jaw pop and click every time you move it? Does it feel stiff or ever become stuck while you’re opening or closing your mouth? If so, you may be experiencing a problem with your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint. This is your jaw joint, and if it becomes inflamed, sustains an injury, or isn’t properly aligned, this can easily cause a TMJ disorder, or TMD, leading to all kinds of chronic pain throughout the face and head. If any of these symptoms sound familiar to you, the team at Island City Dental can help find the cause and provide treatments that will deliver the long-term relief you deserve.
Your TMJ consists of a complicated system of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons all working together in order to give your jaw the ability to move freely in all directions. It is an essential part of oral health, so we will examine your TMJ whenever you come to see us for a checkup. If you report or exhibit any signs of a TMD, we’ll perform a few tests and take X-rays of the joint so we can find the underlying problem and figure out how to treat it directly.
Often, a TMD is the result of a misaligned bite, in which the orientation of the teeth physically prevents the joint from functioning properly. In order to fix this, we can perform something called an equilibration. This involves adjusting and reshaping a few teeth in order to properly balance the bite. This may consist of slightly shaving down a few teeth and/or building them up with restorations. The end result should be a fully functioning jaw that is also pain-free.
Another way we can help patients dealing with a TMD is to have them wear a therapeutic mouthpiece to bed called an occlusal splint. These fit over the teeth and slightly adjust the jaw into a more natural and functional position, allowing the muscles and nerves to relax and heal. Over time, the jaw will “learn” to stay in this position throughout the day, which should eliminate any pain or dysfunction. These can also help protect the teeth from another common symptom of TMD, nighttime teeth grinding.