The temporomandibular joints that hinge your jaw are sophisticated ball and socket joints. They work together with ligaments and muscles in your jaw, thus allowing you to open your mouth, chew food, and speak. Pain, a dull ache, or other problems in this area are more commonly referred to as TMJ disorder.
At Simpson Dental Associates we find that some of the early symptoms of TMJ disorder can include a persistent dull ache in front of your ears or near your temples. It could also be related to pain when opening and closing your mouth, biting down hard or chewing.
Grinding your teeth on a regular basis can cause soreness in the jaw muscles and inflammation in the joints. This can significantly increase your chances of developing TMJ disorder. Other potential sources could also include a past dislocation in one or both joints, arthritis or general inflammation issues.
At first treatment often focuses on modifying basic lifestyle choices. This might include eating softer foods, taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, and using heat packs to relax muscle tension.
If your TMJ disorder is directly attributed to grinding your teeth, we might prescribe a custom night guard. The night guard conforms comfortably to your mouth and allows enough slip when grinding your teeth that it doesn’t lock up the muscles. It also helps protect the biting surface of your teeth.
If lifestyle modification and a night guard still don’t provide relief to your symptoms, may recommend more advanced treatment options. This could involve anti-inflammatory medication, muscle relaxers, or rehabilitation exercises. If the problem persists, surgical intervention might be called for.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, you should call Simpson Dental Associates at 304-342-6162 to schedule an appointment.