Great for breakfast cereal – but not for jaws
If your jaw joint is painful or it clicks or pops as you chew or yawn, you are likely experiencing symptoms of “temporomandibular joint” (TMJ) disorder (TMD). The temporomandibular joints on each side of the face connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone, which contributes to the lower lateral walls of the skull. TMJ disorder is most often caused by misalignment of the teeth or jaw, arthritis, or trauma, and teeth grinding or clenching, poor posture, stress, and/or aggressive gum chewing can make the trouble worse.
Your dentist is in the best position to diagnose and treat TMJ disorder because our education and training is on one specialized area of your body – your jaws, teeth, head, and neck – all areas that are directly impacted by TMD.
When meeting a new patient, I often see signs of tooth wear or jaw misalignment. When I do, part of your examination will include:
- Listening for clicks and clunks as you open and close your jaw and move it side to side.
- Measuring the range of movement of your jaw – this is how far you can open your mouth.
- Applying light pressure to points on your jawline to see if there is sensitivity.
If I suspect TMD is causing your issues and you have the telltale signs of tooth damage caused by tooth grinding (bruxism), I will prescribe a small comfortable oral splint – or nightguard – that you wear at night. A soft over-the-counter “boil and bite” mouth guard will not stop the tooth grinding that causes TMD symptoms because it does not provide enough resistance to jaw movement. You may end up chewing through it – wasting your time and money.
Some things you can do at home to minimize your symptoms:
- Avoid overusing your jaw muscles – this includes eating softer foods, avoiding chewing gum, and cutting your food into smaller pieces.
- Stretch and strengthen your jaw muscles with gentle movements and massage tender areas.
- Use heat or cold compresses as they work for your individual needs.
If you’re concerned your symptoms may point to TMJ disorder or you are looking for nightguards in Batavia, NY because you already know you have a TMJ disorder or grind your teeth at night, please contact me today. Because we want you to feel confident knowing that we are a team of skilled clinicians, we stay informed about the latest research, new techniques and equipment, and the latest products that a dental office can offer to provide state-of-the-art dental care. We invite you to take advantage of our commitment to the highest quality dental care by calling Batavia Family Dental, for a convenient appointment. We’re easy to find at 6 Batavia City Centre and look forward to hearing from you.
Yours in dental health,
Dr. Steve Sokolovskiy