Managing TMJ Disorder
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 doesn’t mean there is no continuing damage.
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 can only temporarily alleviate the issue until the problem returns. There is often no specific diagnosis by a physician, or no “known” cause. Patients may have tried a store-bought night guard or mouthguard, but these may not fit precisely or become uncomfortable very early on.
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 Treatment at Coastal Virginia Sleep Solutions
We will make sure that we give you ALL the information that you will need on your first visit with us.
Our dental team will ask you to provide us with 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 which includes 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 check for pain in the TMJ or muscle, and if you have a danger of continued damage. He will find the causes of your TMJ problems, give you a diagnosis, and provide recommendations on how he can help.
TMJ Disorder FAQs
Can a TMJ disorder go away on its own?
No. Some TMJ pain or symptoms will feel better on their own, or the pain will go away over time. That does not mean that the problem has gone away completely. A patient’s first appointment is just the start of unravelling a long-term problem.
When should I get treated for TMJ?
You should seek treatment if TMJ problems are caused by trauma, an injury, or you suddenly cannot open your jaw fully (especially after waking up). Schedule an evaluation as soon as possible. There is likely damage that will continue to get much worse, but we can reverse it if treated early enough.
Do I need surgery to get rid of TMJ?
No, we can address most TMJ issues with non-invasive treatments and common dental procedures. Surgery will only be necessary if you have severe TMJ issues, jaw deformities, and other jaw problems.
What should you not do with TMJ?
Patients with TMJ should avoid chewing gum, or any chewy candies. Patients should also avoid eating hard foods because it can be tough on your jaw muscle. Also avoid tooth grinding and clenching if you have TMJ issues.
How do you calm a TMJ flare up?
The best way to calm a TMJ flare up is to apply heat or ice to the jaw joint area. Sticking to a soft diet and avoiding eating foods that involve excessive chewing will also help calm down a flare up. Taking OTC painkillers will also help decrease pain from the flare up.
What time of day is TMJ worse?
Patients typically report that the worst TMJ symptoms happen at night. This is because nighttime is when patients are most likely to grind and clench their teeth.
How should I sleep with TMJ?
The best position for sleeping with TMJ is on your back. Sleeping on your back keeps pressure off of your jaw while providing proper support for your head and neck.
Contact our office for an evaluation today. Call Coastal Virginia Sleep Solutions at (757) 600-0861 or request an appointment on our website.