As a long-time general dentist, I have treated patients of all dental complications. I take pride in ensuring that my Fort Myers FL dental team and Naples FL dental team are updated with the latest technology and treatments.
At George A. Hoop, DDS, PA, we study every possible way to give you a better smile and help you feel better. One area where we’re making huge gains is helping patient relieve jaw pains and headaches. These two problems can hugely affect your everyday life, and they are often related to the temporomandibular joint.
What is the TMJ?
The TMJ is a joint that connects the jaw bone to the skull. Like any joint, there are muscles and tendons around it. These muscles and tendons are responsible for allowing you to open and close your mouth. We open and close our mouths thousands of times a day, whether we’re eating or speaking. When the joint and muscles are not working together, you can have a problem known as temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
About 15 percent of adults have TMD, and it occurs more often with women between the ages of 20 to 40. A few common signs of TMD are:
- Clenching or grinding teeth
- Change in your bite
- Pain while chewing
- Tooth pain (sometimes similar to nerve pain)
- Neck pain
- Stiff jaw muscles
TMD will not go away on its own, and it typically gets worse with time. Not only will the pain sometimes increase overtime, but having TMJ problems can sometimes increase the likelihood of wearing down the enamel of your teeth or chipping or fracturing teeth.
How We Diagnose TMD
Some people have TMJ and have no idea they have a problem. Or, they might have daily headaches but have never considered a jaw problem to be the source of the problem. We assess every patient who comes to our office to see if they have any jaw problems. We conduct this short assessment by moving the jaw around and checking out your bite.
We also feel for inflammation around the joint and jaw muscles. In some cases, a patient with TMD will experience clicking, popping, or even grinding of the jaw.
Treating TMJ Problems
Because TMJ often causes patients a great deal of pain — whether with headaches or jaw pains — some people turn to medications to combat the pain. It’s not uncommon for dentists who treat TMD to see patients who have used medication for years. Our treatments do not require medications.
There are a few common ways dentists want to treat TMD: orthodontics, full-mouth reconstruction, or surgery. The first two solution focuses on correcting the bite, while the third option targets the jaw joint. These are all expensive and often invasive ways to treat your issues.
There are some jaw exercises we can show you to stretch out the muscles and tendons, but we’ve found that an oral appliance can help many patients with TMD overcome their issues. The TMD appliance, known as a splint, is a small mouthpiece that fits over the lower jaw and keeps you from clenching or grinding your teeth. This mouthpiece protects your teeth while taking the pressure off of your jaw joint and muscles.
If you have any of the TMD signs listed above, give us a call at 239-734-7737. We’d love to meet with you and discuss some solutions for your dental problems.