While you most likely consider your oral health to only focus on your teeth and gums, the mouth is made up of many complex structures and moving parts, and the dentists of Dentistry by Brand recognize that. This includes the jaw, which is capable of making many sophisticated movements when chewing, speaking, and smiling. However, problems with the jaw joint can appear when you’re feeling stressed out, your bite is uneven, or another complication is present. If you’ve caught yourself grinding and clenching your teeth, woken up with headaches or jaw pain, or even noticed neck and shoulder pain, please give us a call to schedule an appointment!
Our office always takes a look at your jaw and TMJ during routine exams. We also take the time to look for flat or worn down teeth as these are typically the signs that teeth grinding is present. Habits like these are also an indicator that your jaw joint is under stress and needs additional attention.
If we believe that you are suffering from TMJ disorder (or TMD), the next thing we’ll do is perform a few tests and ask you questions, specifically about any other symptoms you may be experiencing. There are many causes that can lead to TMD, not just teeth grinding. For example, if you have arthritis or previously had a jaw injury, it can develop into TMD. Once we know the root cause, we can build a treatment plan.
Uneven bites put disproportionate amounts of force to your jaw joints. They also prevent the TMJ from achieving its actual resting position, leading to tension in the jaw’s muscles and ligaments in the long-term. As you chew and open your mouth, inflammation of the joint develops, which then sends pain to other areas of the face, head and upper body. It’s one of the reasons why TMD can cause not just headaches and migraines, but neck pain, shoulder pain, earaches, and even upper back pain!
To relieve your symptoms, our dentists can complete an occlusal adjustment. By carefully and conservatively reshaping specific teeth, we can make sure your bite stays even and gives your jaw muscles an opportunity not just to relax, but heal as well.
Occlusal splints are custom-made oral appliances that are designed to manage and treat a number of symptoms caused by TMD. They mainly work by moving the position of the jaw in a way that is more natural. This allows the jaw muscles to properly relax. Keep in mind that this appliance is worn when you go to bed, which is ideal since teeth grinding and clenching tends to occur more frequently as you sleep. Once you’ve worn the appliance for a few months, you should start to notice your symptoms fade away or become greatly diminished.