Fort Mill TMJ/TMD Treatment

Jaw Pain?

Get TMJ/TMD Treatment In Fort Mill

If you have been suffering from pain and discomfort in your jaw and you are not sure why, you could be suffering from temporomandibular joint disorder, usually referred to as TMJ/TMD. This painful condition can interfere with your ability to chew, bite and speak, and cause issues like radiating headaches and jaw pain.

Woman sitting on a chair holding her jaw in pain

What is TMJ?

Understanding TMJ/TMD

TMJ/TMD refers to a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that connects your jaw to your skull and is located just underneath each your ears. TMJ/TMD is typically caused by some kind of damage, inflammation, or trauma to this joint, for example:

  • Grinding: If you grind your teeth, excessive strain could be placed on the joint, resulting in inflammation and pain
  • Gum chewing: If you chew a lot of gum, the overuse could lead to damage to the temporomandibular joint.
  • Injury: Direct trauma can also knock the joint out of place, which can lead to TMJ/TMD.
  • Arthritis and Autoimmune disorders: Some kinds of arthritis and autoimmune disorders can cause also joint inflammation and TMJ/TMD.

Do I Have TMJ/TMD?

Know The Signs of TMJ:

TMJ/TMD has a few distinctive symptoms and signs that you should look if you believe you may be suffering from this joint disorder. Pain and tenderness in the jaw are both very common, as is an aching, radiating pain that feels like it’s located right underneath your ear. You may have difficulty and pain while chewing, or you may not be able to open your mouth all the way. In some cases, you may even experience jaw locking, where you cannot close or open your mouth properly. Clicking noises when moving your jaw can also indicate a potential case of TMJ/TMD.

Man smiling on a couch

CAN TMJ/TMD

Correct itself?

The answer is “sometimes.” This depends on the root cause of your TMJ/TMD. Since TMJ/TMD can be caused by a lot of different things, some minor cases may resolve themselves without the need for clinical treatment at Luck Family Dental.

For example, if you have TMJ/TMD because you have been chewing a lot of gum and have put too much stress on the temporomandibular joint, lifestyle changes like eating a diet of soft foods and not chewing gum to avoid stressing the joint may be enough to allow it to heal and recover.

However, if you have TMJ/TMD due to a bad bite and teeth grinding, the issue is unlikely to resolve itself on its own. You will need to see a dentist like Dr. Leah Luck to get a proper diagnosis and a treatment plan. If you leave your TMJ/TMD untreated, it will likely only get worse over time.

HOW CAN BRUXISM (TEETH GRINDING)

BE TREATED? 

Bruxism, also called teeth grinding, is a common contributing factor to TMJ/TMD. In bruxism, the teeth are gnashed, clenched, and ground together uncontrollably. This is the most common at night during sleep, but can also happen during the day in some patients. There are a few different ways that bruxism is commonly treated, including:

  • Stress or anxiety management – Teeth grinding is associated with stress and anxiety. Lifestyle changes and things like seeing a therapist, exercising, getting enough sleep, and maintaining a better work-life balance may help improve bruxism that’s induced by anxiety or stress.
  • Behavioral changes – Changes in behavior, such as being more aware of the position of your jaw and clenching throughout the day, can help reduce the effects of teeth grinding.
  • Nightguards – A nightguard is a retainer-like plastic device designed to cushion and protect your teeth while you sleep. It prevents direct tooth-to-tooth contact, which reduces the likelihood of grinding, and also helps prevent premature enamel wear, which is common in patients who grind their teeth frequently.

In some cases, prescription medicine like anti-anxiety medication, antidepressants, or even muscle relaxants may also be recommended to help with bruxism. The proper treatment will vary depending on both the underlying cause and the severity of your grinding.

WILL I NEED SURGERY

TO TREAT TMJ/TMD?

Surgery is very rarely needed to treat TMJ/TMD. It’s only a last-resort option, since most cases of TMJ/TMD can be treated with a variety of alternative therapies. 

Open joint surgery for TMJ does have some major risks of complications, so it’s only used when all other treatments have failed to deliver relief. However, there are some other corrective jaw surgeries (orthognathic surgeries) that may be recommended instead of direct surgery to the temporomandibular joint itself.

For example, if your TMJ/TMD is being caused by a bad bite, Dr. Luck may recommend surgery and orthodontic treatment to correct your bite position and the alignment of your teeth. Together, surgical treatments and orthodontics like braces will be used to reshape and change your bite, reduce stress on the temporomandibular joint, and restore your oral health.

How We Can Help

Treatment Options for TMJ/TMD

Some minor cases of TMJ/TMD can be resolved with anti-inflammatory medications and rest. For TMJ/TMD caused by teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism), Dr. Luck typically uses a Comfort H/S Bite Splint, which is designed to minimize pressure and encourage a healthier jaw position. In some cases, an oral appliance that changes the position of the jaw to reduce pressure on the TMJ/TMD may be prescribed to be worn at night. This will help encourage the healing of the joint. For some cases of TMJ/TMD, corticosteroid injections may be recommended to help the joint heal. In extreme cases, surgery may be required, but this is very rare.

Schedule a TMJ/TMD Consultation

Get Help Today

If you are experiencing jaw pain, you need to get help from a qualified professional right away. Whether you have TMJ/TMD or another jaw issue, the pain and discomfort can interfere with your ability to live your day-to-day life.

Dr. Luck is an expert in the treatment of TMJ/TMD, and can help you understand the best steps you can take to recover from your condition. To get help and begin healing stop by our office at 342 Patricia Lane, Suite 101, Fort Mill, SC 29708, or contact Luck Family Dentistry at (803) 760-7860 today!

Ready to schedule your appointment?