Do you struggle with chronic facial pain and jaw stiffness? If so, you are likely suffering from Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), a condition that occurs when your jaw joints are damaged or inflamed. At The Clearwater Dentist, we offer numerous non-invasive options for TMJ treatment to patients in Palm Harbor, FL. Dr. John Krueger will carefully evaluate your case and design a treatment plan to provide pain relief and improve oral function.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder affects the temporomandibular joints (TMJs) located on either side of your jaw. Because we use these joints almost constantly when eating and speaking, damaging them is very easy and very common. Even if the joint itself is not in pain, surrounding tissues can become severely inflamed.
Many oral health problems can lead to or further exacerbate TMD. Bruxism or teeth grinding is one of the most common: unconsciously clenching and grinding your teeth can significantly strain your TMJs. Worn or missing teeth can also offset the force of your bite, placing uneven pressure on your joints and exhausting the associated muscles.
Recognizing the Symptoms of TMD
Because the muscular system is so interconnected, jaw pain from TMJ disorder can lead problems in many other parts of your body. Some of the most common signs include
- Jaw pain
- Pain that radiates across your lower face
- Chronic headaches
- Pain in your neck, shoulders, and upper back
- Ear pain
- Ringing in your ears
- Jaw stiffness
- A “locked jaw”
- A popping or clicking noise when you open or close your jaw
However, because many of these symptoms overlap with other conditions, identifying TMj is not always straightforward. During a consultation, Dr. Krueger can conduct a TMJ analysis to determine whether TMD is at the root of your symptoms or not. If it is, he will work closely with you to plan a treatment that relieves your discomfort as effectively and efficiently as possible.
Treatment for TMJ Disorder
In most cases, nonsurgical treatments are ideal for addressing TMD. Among the most effective are physical therapy, restorative dentistry procedures, and oral appliances such as mouth guards. Physical therapy is particularly helpful in strengthening the jaw through exercise, reducing muscle tension, and even improving your posture to relieve pressure on the TMJs.
Patients should be able to go about their daily activities without pain interfering with their quality of life.
Dr. Krueger often recommends combining physical therapy with oral appliance therapy. By fitting directly over your teeth, a custom-made mouth guard can reposition your bite and prevent pressure-related damage by realigning your jaw.
In some cases, restorative dentistry can also help lay the foundations for an effective solution. By replacing missing teeth with dental implants or bridges, the doctor can redistribute pressure across your dental arch. Similarly, a crown can rebuild a worn tooth so that all of your top and bottom teeth come together properly in a functional bite.
Relieve Your Discomfort with Customized Treatment
Patients should be able to go about their daily activities without pain interfering with their quality of life. If you are suffering from pain and symptoms commonly associated with TMJ, contact us online or at (727) 441-3523 to schedule a consultation.