Trusted TMJ Specialists
We conduct a thorough dental exam and review your dental and
medical history to determine the cause of your TMJ pain
Your lower jaw is hinged to your skull by your jaw joints. Most people take their jaw joints, called temporomandibular joints for granted. These are the joints that allow you to open and close your jaw smoothly, and to move it from side to side so you can chew, talk, laugh, and yawn comfortably.
Temporomandibular joint problems can cause a disorder called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). Sometimes this disorder is called TMJ after the joint causing the issue. Temporomandibular or TMJ pain can be very unpleasant and may be temporary or will last years.
We offer treatments that are highly effective in providing TMJ pain relief including custom-made night guards, medications, or restorative dental work.
What Can Cause TMJ Pain?
Jaw joint problems can be caused because of issues with the joint itself, or because of problems with the muscles operating the jaw joint. Possible causes of TMD include:
- Injury to your jaw joint or injuries affecting your head and neck muscles such as whiplash or sustaining a heavy blow
- Issues affecting the disc or soft cushion between the ball-and-socket of your jaw joint
- Arthritis in your temporomandibular joint
- Clenching and grinding your teeth, a problem called bruxism which places enormous pressure on your jaw joints
- Stress because when you are stressed, you often tighten your jaw muscles and facial muscles or will clench your teeth
What Are the Symptoms Caused by Temporomandibular Disorder?
The most common system is pain or discomfort that can be severe. It’s a condition that tends to affect more women than men, and it’s most common amongst people aged between 20 and 40. The pain caused by jaw joint problems can affect your facial area and may extend into your neck and shoulders and even your ears. It can be noticeable when you try to open your mouth wide, or when you try to chew or talk.
TMJ signs can include:
- Difficulty in opening your mouth wide
- Toothache and other pains including headaches, earache and neck ache
- Tinnitus or ringing in your ears
- Finding your jaws become stuck or locked when they are closed together or open
- Hearing a grating, clicking or popping sound in your jaw joints whenever you move your lower jaw, and which may or may not be painful
- Feeling as if your face is fatigued
- Chewing may be less comfortable, and it could feel as if your teeth no longer bite together correctly
- Swelling affecting one or both sides of your face
If these signs sound familiar, schedule an appointment to see our dentists here at Gentle Dental.
How To Diagnose Your Jaw Joint Pain?
TMD symptoms are often confused with other problems like gum disease, tooth decay, or sinus problems. Therefore, we will need to conduct a thorough dental exam and review your dental and medical history to determine the cause of your TMJ pain.
Diagnostic Tests for TMD
Full-face x-rays are frequently useful for viewing your jaws and temporomandibular joints. We may also want to conduct other diagnostic imaging tests such as a cone beam CT scan, which provides highly detailed 3D images of your teeth and jaws. A CT scan will show your jaw joints in a great deal of detail.
We will gently examine your jaws and will ask you to open and close your mouth so we can check your bite. Our dentist will check your facial muscles for signs of inflammation and tenderness. We will also listen carefully to check for any characteristic clicking or popping sounds as you move your jaws.
Once we have reviewed our findings, we can decide how best to help you gain TMJ relief from the pain and discomfort of this condition.
How to Treat TMJ?
Several possible treatments are highly effective in providing TMJ pain relief. These include a custom-made night guard, medications, or restorative dental work.
Custom-Made Night Guard
A custom-made nightguard is one of the most effective treatments for TMJ disorders. It can be especially effective if you have bruxism, reducing the impact of clenching and grinding your teeth. The custom-made night guard is made from tough thermoplastic and fits exactly over your teeth, preventing them from contacting. It is comfortable to wear and helps to place your jaws into a more relaxed and comfortable position. You simply wear the night guard during sleep.
Over-the-counter painkillers can provide TMJ pain relief, but otherwise, we can prescribe something stronger if needed and which can help reduce any swelling and inflammation. We may also suggest using a muscle relaxant, or antianxiety medication can help relieve feelings of stress. Another option is to consider Botox injections, which can help to relax the jaw joint muscles.
Restorative Dental Work
Broken down teeth, aging fillings, crowns, and bridges can all affect your bite. If your bite is even slightly out of place, it can place stress on your jaw joints. Restorative dental work can replace failing crowns, bridges, and fillings. We can replace teeth that are missing entirely with dental bridges or dental implants.
TMJ Treatment at Home
Although there are things you can do at home and which can help provide TMJ relief, these will often work best in conjunction with professional treatments. Things to try include:
- Over-the-counter painkillers including anti-inflammatory drugs to relieve swelling
- Using an ice pack applied to the side of the face for approximately 10 minutes, followed with moist heat using a washcloth or towel for about 5 minutes
- Eating softer foods that don’t require much chewing or which don’t need you to open your jaw wide
- Avoiding movements like yawning or any action way you need to open your mouth wide
- Practicing keeping your teeth apart by placing your tongue between them during the day as this will help relieve pressure on your jaw joints
- Using relaxation techniques or doing a few jaw stretches to reduce tension in your jaw muscles
Will I Need to See a TMJ Specialist?
Often, we can provide family dentistry services right here at Gentle Dental. Otherwise, we might refer you to see a TMJ specialist dentist in our office, such as an oral surgeon or an orthodontist.
If you need surgery to correct TMD problems, it is best to see an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who specializes in surgical procedures affecting the jaws, mouth, and facial area. Issues affecting your occlusion (your bite) are often best addressed by an orthodontist. They can provide specialist treatment to ensure your teeth fit together correctly, reducing unwanted stress on your jaw joints and facial muscles.
Our dentists here at Gentle Dental can discuss all the TMJ treatment options suitable for your situation and will explain the possible pros and cons of each TMJ treatment. For more information about the TMJ treatments available or to schedule an appointment with TMJ specialist in our Queens dental center, contact Gentle Dental at (718) 461-0100.