Mouth Guards and Other Conservative TMJ Disorder Treatment to Alleviate Chronic Pain
If your jaw cracks and pops, you may be suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder (TMD). You may also have the condition if you are experiencing unexplained face, neck, or shoulder pain. At PQ Family Dental, Dr. Tim Belnap and Dr. W. Brandon Jergensen provide non-surgical treatment for TMD. At our Rancho Peñasquitos and Ramona, CA, offices, we can create custom-made mouth guards to help alleviate your painful symptoms. These comfortable devices can gently realign your jaw to reduce pressure on the joints. We can also provide guidance for lifestyle changes that can help ease inflammation and prevent further structural damage to your joints. With our expertise, you could experience an almost immediate reduction of jaw pain. Most importantly, this relief can be long-lasting, and it dramatically improve your overall quality of life.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMD is a common condition that can affect men, women, and children. The problem often occurs because of structural damage to your joints, most typically involving a slipped disc. Inside each of your TMJs are soft discs that cushion the bones when you move your mouth. When these discs slip out of place, you may experience painful friction. The irritation can also inflame your facial muscles and ligaments, leading to radiating pain. Often, inflammation can occur without a slipped disc or similar problems. For instance, an uneven bite or dental misalignment can put significant pressure on your joints.
Diagnosing TMJ Disorder
TMD often goes undiagnosed because patients are unaware of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, or they believe that they are caused by some other condition. For this reason, it is important to be aware of the side effects of TMD. They can include:
- Jaw pain
- Pain that radiates across your lower face
- Neck, shoulder, or upper back pain
- A popping or clicking noise when you move your jaw
- A grating sensation when you move your jaw
- Ear pain
- Tinnitus (ringing in your ears)
- Frequent headaches, especially in the morning
Dr. Belnap or Dr. Jergensen can often diagnose TMD following an evaluation of your symptoms. For the most accurate diagnosis, your dentist will typically conduct a manual examination. X-rays may reveal joint damage, and a visual exam can uncover dental or jaw misalignment.
We can create custom-made mouth guards to help alleviate your painful symptoms. These comfortable devices can gently realign your jaw to reduce pressure on the joints.
Treatment for TMD
In the vast majority of cases, we treat TMJ disorder with mouth guards. Your appliance will be crafted from carefully made impressions of your teeth and gums. Fitting gently yet firmly over your teeth, it comfortably pushes your lower jaw forward. In this position, the pressure on your joints is alleviated, preventing further damage and allowing your soft tissues to heal. Typically, you will only need to wear your mouth guard at night, and you should adjust to it very quickly. In some cases, we may recommend additional procedures such as a dental restoration like a crown or bridge to help redistribute force across all of your teeth. In turn, your even bite will put less pressure on your TMJs. We may also refer you to a trusted area specialist for orthodontic treatment. In severe but very rare cases, Dr. Belnap or Dr. Jergensen may recommend surgery to repair or replace a compromised jaw joint.
After treatment, we can provide lifestyle tips to help you avoid future inflammation. You should avoid eating very hard-to-chew foods as well as chewing gum. It may also help to improve your posture, as slouching can cause undue pressure on your TMJs.
Contact Us to Alleviate Your Discomfort
If you are suffering from jaw pain or other TMD symptoms, contact our office online today for the treatment you need. You can also call our Rancho Peñasquitos location at (858) 484-9222 or our Ramona office at (760) 789-6200 to speak to a member of our team.