Patients should seek a more detailed diagnosis or treatment for TMJ if they have:
- Difficulty opening their mouth wide
- Jaw locking open for any amount of time
- Recurring problems with therapy that does not last
- Concern about continuing damage and future problems
TMJ is not a diagnosis, but a description of the location of the pain where it is most noticeable.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
- Chronic headaches
- Neck tension
- Painful facial muscles
- Feeling of “band” around head
For many patients with TMJ disorders, medications might work, but the problem returns. There is often no specific diagnosis by a physician, or no “known” cause. Patients may have tried a nightguard or mouthguard, but they may have not fit, did not help, or was uncomfortable.
What Causes TMJ problems?
A patient can develop TMJ problems from a number of conditions:
- The use of anti-depressants or pain medications
- Major memorable trauma or minor forgettable trauma
- Slow chronic damage from excessive tooth contact
- Sinus problems
- Muscle hyperactivity from clenching and grinding teeth
- Facial or postural developmental issues
- Anxiety or stress
- Chronic pain in the body
- Orthopedic problems in the body
- Habitual posture problems
- Occupational risks
- Inflammatory diseases
- Sleep and airway disorders
- Gastric reflux
- Laryngopharyngeal reflux
TMJ problems are rarely cured. However, we can reduce the long-term difficulties to your health and quality of life and direct you toward the help you need. Most people have many variables of problems that contribute to TMJ pain. If cases of TMJ are not addressed, problems worsen. Just because pain or symptoms are gone doesnt mean there is not continuing damage.
Your first visit is designed to make sure that we give you information that will help you.
Our dental team will ask you to provide us with a variety of information that will help us make your first visit as efficient and valuable as possible. We will schedule you for a 15-30 minute appointment- a TMJ focused evaluation. Our team will use information you provide us, along with our clinical evaluation, to explain your situation to you. Dr. Harper will see if you are feeling pain in the joint or muscle and if you have a danger of continued damage. He will find the causes of your TMJ problems and determine how he can help.
What TMJ Patients Should Know
Some TMJ pain or symptoms will feel better, or the pain will go away, over time. That does not mean that the problem has gone away. A patient’s first appointment is just the start of unravelling a long-term problem. Additionally, if TMJ problems are caused by trauma or an injury, or patients suddenly cannot open their jaw fully (especially after waking up), then they should see our office for an evaluation. There is likely damage that will continue to get much worse if allowed to continue, but often can be reversed if treated early enough.
Contact Our Office
Call Coastal Virginia Sleep Solutions at (757) 600-0861 or request an appointment on our website.