TMJ/ TMD Treatment in Buffalo, NY

Have you been experiencing facial or jaw pain? Maybe the pain has been causing difficulty chewing, frequent headaches, limited ability to open your mouth, swelling, and/ or lockjaw.

If these symptoms describe you, you may be a candidate for TMJ/ TMD treatment. Find out how our orthodontics can help provide the relief you have been looking for.

Temporomandibular joint disorder is often abbreviated and referred to as TMJ or TMD. In fact, you may find that many dental and healthcare professionals use the terms TMJ and TMD interchangeably. The joints involved in this disorder are located on each side of your head. The joints work with the muscles and ligaments to help you open and close your mouth for talking, chewing, or yawning. TMJ / TMD happens if these joints do not work as they should.

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tmj-and-tmdDespite the location of the joints involved, TMJ / TMD can affect face (and your head) in other locations. TMJ / TMD causes chronic facial pain. It is most commonly diagnosed in people between the ages of 20 and 40 years old. According to the American Dental Association, this condition is more common in women than in men.

With TMJ / TMD, the joints of your jaw do not work in the way that they are designed. Treatment does exist for TMJ / TMD. Generally, the goal of treatment is to control or stop the symptoms of the disorder. Treatment could include finding a way to minimize the spasms that occur in the muscles and the ligaments around the affected joints. Sometimes, dental professionals prescribe the use of specialized dental appliances to help reduce the likelihood of negative problems that result from the disorder. Relaxation techniques are often taught in order to help the patient learn how to lessen the tension in the jaw muscles. In extreme cases of TMJ / TMD, surgery may be recommended.

What Are Some Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ / TMD is often symptomatic. Yet, one issue with relying only the symptoms is that there are other dental and craniofacial issues that have similar symptoms. It is very important that if you see any of the following symptoms that you see a dental professional. Your dentist will take a complete history of your dental and physical health. Then, you’ll most likely undergo x-rays so that the dentist can examine the jaw bones and teeth. The dentist will also perform an exam.

Symptoms of TMJ include:

  • Severe headaches. Many patients with TMJ believe that they have a migraine because of the location and severity of the pain.
  • Because of the close proximity of the jaws to the ears, when patients have TMJ, they often experience earaches. It could be dull pain or sharp pain.
  • Clicking or popping when you open or close your mouth. Additionally, the jaw may also lock into place. Although no one knows what causes TMJ, many theorize that it is a form of arthritis in the jaw.
  • Pain or tenderness in the jaws. Inflammation in muscles and ligaments can cause pain. Grinding of the teeth can also cause pain.
  • Your upper and lower teeth do not fit together anymore. If your bite was normal and suddenly becomes abnormal, you may have TMJ.

If you have certain risk factors, it is more likely that you will develop TMJ / TMD. Risk factors include a diagnosis of certain types of arthritis, experienced an injury to your jaw, have a history of grinding or clenching your teeth, or have certain connective tissue disorders.

If TMJ / TMD is left untreated, complications may develop. Common complications related to this dental problem include poor oral health, long-term headaches, sleep loss because of grinding of the teeth, malnutrition, eating disorders, and hearing problems. If you have suspect that you may have TMJ / TMD, see a dentist right away.

Is All Jaw Pain Associated with TMD?

Not all jaw pain is associated with TMD. While TMD occurs in around 10-15% of the population, other conditions have similar symptoms. These include:

Sinus infections. Sinus infections can be really mild and have practically no symptoms passed pressure in the sinuses or they can be severe. Severe sinus infections can do more than cause pressure in the face. It can cause ear pain, dizziness, and some people even experience jaw pain.

Problems with neck muscles. As you learned earlier, jaw muscles can cause ear pain. Neck muscles can cause jaw and ear pain. Our muscles in the craniofacial region are interconnected. So, you may not have TMD, but you could have a pulled or strained muscle in your neck and shoulder region that is causing you pain in your jaw and ears.

An abscess. If you have an abscessed tooth, it can eventually cause jaw and ear pain. Signs of an abscess, aside from pain, includes a swelling of the face, a buildup of pus under the gum line, a blister like sore on the gum, or even a fever. An abscess requires treatment with antibiotics or it can become life threatening.

Bruxism. Bruxism means that you spend a lot of time grinding or clenching your teeth. It’s likely that you don’t do it on purpose. It is something that you can do in your sleep. The result is often pain in the jaw.

Trigeminal Neuralgia. Trigeminal neuralgia is the inflammation of the trigeminal nerve. This particular nerve gives feelings to your mouth. It can be moderate in nature and only cause minor pain when eating or it can be so severe that the face begins to ache from a soft breeze.

Because TMD has symptoms that mimic other conditions and because it can also cause complications, you should contact Orthodontists Associates of Western New York for a free screening.

Frequently Asked Questions About TMJ:

Can TMJ Go Away on Its Own?

It is possible for discomfort from TMJ to go away on its own. This is the case for most people. Doing some exercises on your own such as not clenching your teeth as often could make a huge impact on the symptoms you have from TMJ.

What Is the Main Cause of TMJ?

There are a few causes of TMJ. If you have had any sort of injury to your jaw or teeth, any misalignment of your jaw or teeth, clenching or grinding your teeth along with poor posture, arthritis, stress and chewing gum.

How Do I relieve TMJ Pain?

You can relieve TMJ pain with over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. This can help relieve swelling and muscle pain. If you are able to can use temperature to help relieve the pain. Using moist cold or heat packs can make a huge difference. Applying the heat or ice pack on each time and temple for about 10 minutes should work. Another thing you can try is eating soft foods.

What Will Happen if TMJ Is Not Treated?

If you do not treat TMJ, your symptoms may worsen over time. You could experience inflammation, along with joint damage and the wearing down of your teeth. You can experience an increase in muscle contraction which will cause pain in your face, neck and head. You could even develop a sleeping disorder due to your airway. Lastly, your ears could start to feel full and ring.

Is TMJ Curable?

For most individuals TMJ is a problem that can be reversed. It can be treated using simple and noninvasive methods. Some treatments may include taking pain medications, resting the jaw, practicing stress relief techniques and learning not to clench your teeth.

Can Tinnitus from TMJ Be Cured?

Luckily in most cases tinnitus from TMJ will usually go away once all the underlying issues from TMJ goes away. Tinnitus can also be a symptom of TMJ which may leave some confused when trying to differentiate between the two.

Can TMJ Make You Deaf?  

The cause of TMJ hearing loss is unknown. It is possible for pressure to be placed on your ear which can cause loss of hearing. If you have displacement of the TMJ disc you will have inflammation that can cause blockage. There is also a theory that there could be a malfunction within your nerves and muscles of your hearing and chewing processes that can lead to issues with hearing.

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Orthodontists Associates of Western New York is proud to offer TMJ and TMD treatment throughout Buffalo, LancasterOleanHamburgOrchard Park, and Dunkirk, New York. If you are considering orthodontic care for yourself or a loved one, please contact one of our 5 convenient orthodontic offices to arrange a free consultation.

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