TMJ/TMD Therapy Relieves Jaw Pain
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the small, triangular shaped structures that hold the jaw and skull bones together allowing for fluid jaw movement while eating, drinking, speaking, and yawning. Patients who experience TMJ dysfunction, sometimes referred to simply as TMD, experience pain and/or limited jaw movement due to the damage or strain of these joints. At Sevens Dental, we offer a variety of treatment options to reduce jaw pain and restore full mobility for patients suffering from TMD. Contact our team to find out more or schedule an appointment in our Clayton, MO dental practice. We welcome patients from Webster Groves and the Greater St. Louis area.
Diagnosis & Treatment
The first step in treating TMD is making an accurate diagnosis. Other oral health conditions like bruxism (unconscious nighttime teeth grinding and clenching) and misaligned jaws may have symptoms similar to TMJ dysfunction. We screen for TMD as part of every six month checkup, but we encourage patients to contact us right away if they experience any combination of the following symptoms:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw, head, or neck when opening or closing mouth or when not in motion in severe cases
- Inability to fully extend the jaw or sharp pain when fully extending the jaw
- Clicking or grinding sound when jaw is in motion
- Chronic headache, neck pain, or earache
When patients are diagnosed with TMD, we may recommend any combination of treatments to relieve discomfort and restore their full range of motion.
Occlusion, the way the bite fits together, can cause TMD, if the bite is misaligned placing uneven pressure on different parts of the teeth and jaw. When this happens, the best way to restore comfortable motion is to adjust occlusion. This can be accomplished through bite extending exercises that will improve the range of motion and help patients adjust to the way their jaw should rest for ideal comfort. We may also use braces, retainers, or other orthodontic treatments.
For many patients, the easiest and most comfortable way to treat TMD is by wearing custom crafted occlusal splints during sleep. These splints are made specifically to allow patients’ jaws to rest in their ideal position during sleep. This limits unconscious nighttime movement that places excess strain on the TMJ, and relieves jaw pain by allowing the bite to rest in the most comfortable place. Overtime, splints can naturally reposition the bite in this more comfortable position.