Do you grind your teeth when you are under stress? When you wake up in the morning does your jaw feel tired or do your teeth ache? Clenching and grinding your teeth can not only damage your tooth enamel, but they are also two known triggers for temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). If TMJ/TMD sounds familiar to you and you are in the Walnut Creek area, you should visit Pope Dental soon!
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and TMD occurs when the TMJ becomes inflamed and irritated. While we don’t know the exact causes of TMD, we do know that it is partially caused by genetics and that a few issues can cause it to flare up. In addition to clenching and grinding, these include but are not limited to:
• A misaligned bite
• Increased or unbalanced pressure on the TMJ
• Stress and anxiety
• Braces (especially after an adjustment)
• Deterioration of cartilage in the joint
You may have TMD if you experience any or all of the following symptoms:
• Pain in one or both sides of the jaw
• Aching teeth or jaws
• Pain in the jaw when chewing
• Popping or cracking sounds when speaking or chewing
• Locked jaw
• Ear aches
So what should you do if you believe that you may have TMD? In a few mild cases, the disorder will go away on its own, and in some rare cases it will be so severe that it requires surgery. For most patients though, treatment is fairly simple, comfortable and non-invasive.
To treat TMD triggered by bruxism (teeth grinding), we may recommend wearing a mouth guard or splint at night. For patients who suffer from malocclusion (a misaligned bite), we may recommend Invisalign or another service to pull your teeth into place and relieve your TMD. Also, a warm compress and/or over-the-counter pain relievers will usually help relieve immediate pain and help loosen a locked jaw.
When you visit us at Pope Dental in Walnut Creek, CA for TMD treatment, Dr. Pope will examine your teeth, your bite and your jaw. He will then provide you with a professional diagnosis and recommendations for treatment to help you recover and get back to your normal life without pain.