That one relative who gets under your nerves did it again over Thanksgiving, and you know you will be seeing him or her again soon with Christmas just around the corner.
Speaking of which, you still haven’t finished shopping much less wrapping gifts, and you’ve still got Christmas cards to mail.
In other words, the holidays can be pretty stressful at times.
That’s not good for anyone, and that’s especially true if you grind your teeth. That can lead to TMJ problems or even a TMJ disorder. Could this explain your frequent jaw pain? Your headaches?
At Natural Smiles, TMJ and teeth grinding treatments are just one of the many ways we strive to keep our patients as pain-free as we can.
Could You Have A TMJ Disorder?
Most people will experience TMJ problems from time to time, but for you to have a TMJ disorder, your symptoms need to be persistent and frequent.
Those symptoms could include one or more of the following things:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Facial soreness
- Clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth
- Feeling like you can’t completely open or close your mouth
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
- Upper back pain
If you are noticing these symptoms often in the morning, there is a good chance that you may be clenching or grinding your teeth while you sleep. Many people are surprised to learn this, even though tens of millions of Americans do this.
Many people also clench and grind their teeth while they are awake without realizing they are doing it. This often is a reaction to stress, which could explain why you develop a headache when your boss makes a last-minute change to a project you’ve been working on for weeks.
At the same time, grinding your teeth may only be one factor contributing to your TMJ issues. Jaw misalignments, illnesses, injuries, and arthritis also can create problems with your jaw.
What Is Your TMJ?
TMJ is a shorter way of saying temporomandibular joint. You actually have two of these joints, which are what allow you to open and close your mouth. A TMJ disorder can affect one or both of these joints.
Before you seek professional help, you may want to try some home treatments for your TMJ problems.
For people having trouble opening or closing their mouths completely, moist heat can help loosen the muscles around these joints. If you are having soreness or tenderness, applying an ice or cold pack may numb the pain. Another option is taking an over-the-counter pain reliever.
If you notice pain after meals, then you can do yourself a favor by sticking to soft foods for a few days. This may provide the relief you need for your jaw to recover.
If your symptoms return or they persist in spite of your efforts, that’s when you should plan your visit with our professionals at Natural Smiles.
Two Ways To Treat TMJ
If you come to our dentist office in Louisville, KY, we will take a close look at your teeth and jaw. We will be looking for signs of teeth grinding, such as worn-down enamel. (This is a concern in its own right because it can lead to a greater risk of cavities and tooth infections.)
If we see signs of grinding and clenching, one option is to create an oral appliance that you can wear while you sleep. We can custom design an appliance for you. By wearing it, you are helping yourself in two ways.
First, the appliance acts as a barrier between your top and bottom teeth so you can’t grind them together. Second, the appliance shifts the position of your jaw, which helps it stay more relaxed.
For patients whose TMJ may be related to muscular issues, Botox® can give you relief by keeping your facial muscles relaxed.
We Want To Help You Be Pain-Free
A TMJ disorder can interfere with your day-to-day activities. We want you to eat comfortably and to wake up without feeling like you need medicine before you hop in the shower.