How a Dentist Can Help With Your TMJ Pain
If you experience ongoing jaw pain caused by temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder, you understand how excruciating it can be. You may be worried and confused about whom to trust for help. It turns out that dentists like Dr. Chris McDonald can help you get fast, lasting relief from TMJ pain. In this post, Dr. McDonald explains his approach to helping patients with TMJ pain.
Getting To the Root of the Problem
The key to relief from TMJ pain is determining the root cause of the problem. TMJ pain is typically caused by bruxism, a term that describes grinding or clenching the upper and lower teeth together. Bruxism often occurs at night during sleep, and many patients are unaware they grind or clench. The Cleveland Clinic points out that grinding or clenching can exert up to 250 pounds of force on the teeth and jaw joint — so you can understand how destructive that force can be, night after night!
If you grind or clench your teeth, you may not realize it until your partner points it out to you or Dr. McDonald notices signs of bruxism during a dental exam (flat, worn teeth are usually a telltale sign).
Protecting your teeth and jaw from the forces of chronic grinding or clenching can lead to a reduction in TMJ pain. Dr. McDonald recommends custom-fitted mouth guards, which are worn at night over the teeth to absorb the forces of grinding and clenching.
Night Guards for TMJ Pain Relief
A mouth guard for TMJ pain relief is in some ways similar to a sports mouth guard. Made from lightweight material, the mouth guard is custom created to comfortably fit the contours of your mouth. (Dr. McDonald uses the Trios intraoral scanner to take digital scans of your mouth that are used to create your custom mouth guard.) A great fit means the mouth guard will not interfere with your breathing or shift around when you sleep. And when your mouth guard fits comfortably, you are more likely to wear it as advised and see a quicker improvement in your TMJ pain.
The mouth guard does not stop you from grinding or clenching, but it protects your teeth and TMJ from the tremendous force created by these behaviors. There is no medication or treatment that can stop bruxism, but Dr. McDonald can discuss steps you can take to reduce grinding and clenching at night. Addressing sources of ongoing stress and relaxing the jaw muscles can help; avoiding smoking and alcohol and reducing caffeine intake is also recommended to cut back on bruxism.
By trusting Dr. McDonald with your care and following his recommendations, you should see a reduction in your TMJ pain over time. For more information about TMJ treatment and management, please contact our practice today.