TMJ disorder is a type of oral-facial dysfunction related to the temporomandibular joint. The temporomandibular joint connects the jawbone to the skull and acts as a sliding hinge. When this joint is injured or inflamed, you can experience pain and develop dysfunction that can affect many areas of your health and life.
This disorder is like back pain issues, and a lot of people get used to it and never do something about it. If you have TMJ, you shouldn’t accept it as something normal in your life. Jeremy J. Abbott, DDS, is an experienced and board certified orofacial pain specialist in Bethesda, MD, and he can help you treat this condition successfully.
TMJ disorders are very common and manifest in different ways. These disorders include any recurring problem you might have with your temporomandibular joint.
Symptoms of TMJ can include:
- Jaw pain
- Jaw clicking, popping or locking
- Headaches or earaches
- Tight, sore facial muscles
- Sensitive jaw muscles
Depending on the cause of your disorder, you may experience only 2-3 or all of the above mentioned symptoms. At regular dental checkups, Jeremy J. Abbott, DDS, will always check for tenderness in your jaw muscles to see if TMJ might be present.
The exact cause of this disorder varies from patient to patient, and it can be challenging to determine. A combination of different factors often causes the issue. Common causes of TMJ include:
- Jaw injury
- Teeth clenching or grinding (usually from stress)
- Overuse (gum chewing, nail biting)
As TMJ dentists, we found that the most common cause of TMJ is stress which causes clenching and grinding of your teeth. Jaw clenching and teeth grinding may be chronic (bruxism) or a stress-induced habit that worsens pain. Over time, pain may spread into your face, neck, head, and shoulders. Many patients also suffer from chronic headaches and migraines.
TMJ and Sleep Apnea
TMJ disorder can also be aggravated by sleep apnea. Although sleep apnea and TMJ disorders are two very different conditions, they can go hand-in-hand.
If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your airway collapses during sleep, creating an obstruction. Due to this obstruction, many have difficulties breathing or even stop breathing completely for a short period of time. Your body may attempt to address this issue by pushing the lower jaw forward to open up the airway, causing a lot of stress and tension in the jaw joint, which can eventually lead to a TMJ disorder. This is a reason TMJ disorders and sleep apnea go hand-in-hand.
TMJ Disorder Treatments
If you are diagnosed with TMJ, many treatment options can help to eliminate your pain and discomfort. Possible treatments for TMJ include:
- Self-care – gentle massages and stretching exercises
- Oral splints and mouthguards
- Medication to relieve pain or inflammation
- Corticosteroid injections to relieve pain
- Muscle injections including Botox to help relax muscles
- Counseling to decrease stress
How Can an Orofacial Pain Specialist Help?
Orofacial pain specialists are not just TMJ dentists Bethesda. They are dentists that complete a specialty training program to treat mouth and facial dysfunctions which includes temporomandibular joint disorders and oral appliances for sleep apnea.
Since Dr. Jeremy J. Abbott is specialty trained in orofacial pain and the treatment of TMJ disorers, he can discover the root of your problem, diagnose your disorder, and propose treatments that may help or completely solve your problem. He is able to complete most TMJ treatments in our Bethesda dental office.
For example, if your TMJ is caused by bruxism (teeth grinding), your dentist can create a custom dental appliance that will prevent your teeth from grinding. Apart from alleviating TMJ symptoms, this bite guard will prevent wear on your teeth from grinding that can lead to other dental issues. In case your TMJ is caused by other health conditions such as sleep apnea, the solution is to treat the primary cause. In rare cases, TMJ may require jaw surgery to correct.
There is no need to live with the pain and difficulty of TMJ when your Bethesda dentist, Jeremy J. Abbott, DDS can help you. Allow us to be a partner in your overall health and wellness, and to provide you relief from pain and discomfort. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact us today to make an appointment at the dental office of Jeremy J. Abbott, DDS, and take the first step toward a healthier you and a better quality of life.