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Female Patient Smiling, Blue Sky Smiles, Saginaw TX

TMJ Care in Saginaw, TX

A Solution for Your Chronic Jaw Pain

At Blue Sky Smiles, we want all of our friends, neighbors, and community members to be able to live their best lives, free from chronic pain. But for many, that thought may seem like a pipe dream. Do you suffer from chronic headaches and migraines? Does your jaw pop, lock, and ache? Is your neck stiff? Have you been living in an endless cycle of pain and painkillers? You may be one of millions of Americans suffering from TMJ or TMD, and you might not even know it.

What is TMJ/TMD?

TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw joint. TMD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, to indicate a problem with the joint. Often times these two terms are used interchangeably and are sometimes even referred to as TMJD just to make things confusing. For clarity, we will use TMJ to describe the joint and TMD to describe the dysfunction.

TMD can occur for any number of reasons. Chronic stress is the leading contributing factor because we tend to hold a lot of our stress in this area, which manifests in the form of teeth grinding and clenching or bruxism. Which came first, the TMD or the bruxism is difficult to determine – it’s a chicken versus egg situation.

TMD can also occur because of alignment and bite problems, or a traumatic injury to the joint itself. It’s interesting to note that the majority – 90% – of TMD sufferers are women in their childbearing years. There are many reasons for this gender disparity, including physical differences in the joint structure, hormone receptors in the TMJ, instances of arthritis, and tendency to report symptoms and seek treatment.

Signs You May Have TMJ

TMJ encompasses a range of conditions that affect the jaw joints and the muscles responsible for jaw movement. Here are some common indicators:

Jaw Pain or Tenderness

One of the most noticeable signs of TMJ/TMD is pain or tenderness in the jaw. This discomfort may be present in one or both temporomandibular joints and can vary in intensity. It might be a constant ache or occur only when you use your jaw for speaking, chewing, or yawning.

Pain in and Around Your Ear

People with TMJ/TMD often experience pain that seems to originate from within or around the ears. This pain can be mistaken for an ear infection, but it’s actually related to the dysfunction of the temporomandibular joints.

Difficulty or Discomfort While Chewing

TMD can make chewing painful or difficult. You might notice that your jaw feels tight, or you may hear grinding noises. There might also be a sudden change in how your upper and lower teeth fit together.

Locking of the Joint

In some cases, the temporomandibular joint may lock, making it difficult to open or close your mouth. This can occur as a stiffness in the jaw or, in more severe cases, the jaw being physically stuck in an open or closed position.

Clicking, Popping, or Grating Sounds

A common sign of TMJ/TMD is a clicking, popping, or grating sound when opening or closing the mouth or while chewing. While these sounds themselves aren’t necessarily a cause for concern, if they’re accompanied by pain or limited movement, they indicate a TMJ disorder.

Changes in How Your Teeth Fit Together

If you notice a sudden change in the way your upper and lower teeth fit together, it could be a sign of TMJ/TMD. These changes can affect your bite and overall oral health.

Headaches and Neck Pain

TMJ/TMD can cause pain that radiates beyond the jaw to the head and neck. Tension headaches and neck pain are common among those with TMJ disorders, often due to the strain on the muscles around the jaw and face.

Ear Symptoms Without Ear Problems

Some individuals with TMJ/TMD experience ear symptoms such as earaches, a feeling of fullness in the ears, or tinnitus (ringing in the ears), even though their ears are not infected or blocked.

TMJ Treatment

If any of the above sounds all too familiar, we would love to help you break the cycle and prevent your pain at the source. In order to provide you with the right treatment, we first need to assess the cause of your TMD. We will perform a comprehensive exam of your teeth and bite including digital x-rays.

If we determine you have any alignment or bite problems, we may suggest orthodontics or restorative dentistry to correct the problem and bring your mouth into a healthier balance. This should alleviate the stress on your TMJ that’s causing your pain.

If you clench and grind your teeth, we can create a custom night guard for you to wear during sleep. This simple treatment method can provide incredible relief. The mouthguard protects your teeth from being damaged and worn down and offers a soft cushion to minimize the stress and tension on your jaw joint.

If your TMJ is severe, caused by damage from a traumatic injury or if there is a problem with the physical structure of the joint itself, you may need corrective surgery to fix the problem.

Frequently Asked Questions

What types of treatments do dentists offer for TMJ?

Dentists like Dr. Robinson offer a range of treatments for TMJ/TMD, tailored to the severity and cause of your condition. Common treatments include oral splints or mouthguards to alleviate pressure on the joints, physical therapy exercises to strengthen jaw muscles, and in some cases, medications to reduce inflammation and pain. More advanced treatments can involve dental correction procedures to adjust the bite and relieve stress on the TMJ.

Can a mouthguard really help with TMJ/TMD?

Yes, a mouthguard can significantly help with TMJ/TMD. These devices reduce stress on the jaw by preventing teeth grinding and clenching, particularly at night. They also help to correctly align the jaw, reducing strain on the TMJ and aiding in pain relief.

How long does it take to see improvement from TMJ treatments?

The time it takes to see improvement from TMJ treatments can vary depending on the individual and the type of treatment being used. Some patients experience relief within a few weeks of using non-invasive treatments like mouthguards or undergoing physical therapy, while others might require longer periods or more involved dental procedures to notice significant improvements.

What should I do if I think I have TMJ/TMD?

If you suspect you have TMJ/TMD, the first step is to schedule an appointment with a dentist in Saginaw, TX, experienced in treating TMJ disorders. Dr. Robinson will perform a comprehensive examination, possibly including imaging tests, to diagnose your condition accurately. From there, they will discuss the most appropriate treatment options based on the severity and specifics of your TMJ disorder.

You Deserve Relief

Schedule a consultation with Dr. Robinson today!

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    *Dr. Robinson is a general dentist providing orthodontic services.

    (817) 232-5341