While the abbreviation TMJ may not mean much to many people, to those that suffer from jaw pain, nighttime grinding, or sleep apnea those letters signify pain and sleepless nights. The abbreviation TMJ is an acronym for temporal mandibular joint which are your jaw joints. Jaw related issues can present with many signs and symptoms which can include:
- Grinding and wearing down of teeth
- Pain isolated to the joints
- Pain or tightness of the chewing muscles
- Clicking and popping of your jaw joints
- Inability to open wide
- Frequent headaches or migraines especially in the morning
- Locking of the jaws open or closed.
All dentists see many of the issues above everyday but few have the experience and training to realize that they are signs of an issue that, if not corrected, can lead to catastrophic problems as time goes on. Because many patients do not ask questions about their jaw joint problems if it is not causing a tremendous amount of discomfort, most jaw related issues go undiagnosed and untreated. Lack of treatment of jaw related issues often leads to worsening of the problem.
Imagine if you had a problem with your knee joint that was not causing you any problems and when you went in for your annual physical your physician gave you a clean bill of health. Years later the problem becomes debilitating and now it requires expensive and extensive surgical intervention to repair. Little did you know, proper diagnosis and therapy years ago could have prevented the catastrophic failure of your joint! That’s what frequently happens with patients with jaw related issues.
Jaw Pain Treatment at Our Office
The key to treating jaw related issues is proper diagnosis of the cause of the problem. Jaw pain can be caused by internal problems within the joint itself, muscle pain, nerve pain, or the relationship of how teeth meet. Often patient’s jaw problems can be addressed by a combination of physical therapy and an orthotic splint that is worn at various times of the night and/or day.