Kirkland patients ask, “What is the best TMJ pain treatment?”
Many patients clench their jaws or experience tightness at some point. This may be the result of stress or an overworked jaw. For some patients, this is a one time or occasional occurrence. For others, the pain lingers. Jaw pain or clicking sounds may be caused by TMJ problems. Patients searching for TMJ pain treatment have turned to Kirkland dentist, Dr. Ann Kelley, and the team at Kingsgate Dental Clinic. Dr. Kelley understands the jaw joint, its function, and the discomfort caused by TMJ problems. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to finding relief.
Understanding the temporomandibular joint
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the point where the temporal bones and jaw connect. This joint is responsible for moving the jaw up and down and side to side. When the joint is healthy, it functions and moves normally without vibrations, clicking, or pain. The joint works smoothly, naturally, and comfortably. Over time or when trauma occurs, degeneration, cartilage tears, or displacement can increase friction and vibration. At this point, the joint begins to dysfunction and causes temporomandibular disorder (TMD).
Diagnosing your symptoms
Although pain in front of the ears and the popping sounds when opening and closing your mouth are the most common symptoms of TMD, each patient is unique. Other symptoms of TMD may include:
- Jaw pain or tenderness
- Locked jaws or jaw tightness
- Pain behind the eyes
- Discomfort when yawning or opening your mouth widely
- Pain near your ears when chewing
If you are experiencing jaw pain or TMD symptoms, it is important to see your dentist to diagnose your symptoms and the cause of your discomfort. Your dentist will discuss your medical history, lifestyle, and symptoms. A thorough examination of your teeth and bite along with x-rays or tests can help determine the severity of your condition.
TMJ treatment options
Early diagnosis is the key to any dental issue. When it comes to TMD, early diagnosis means easing your own pain and being able to eat, talk, and yawn without discomfort. Each patient is unique. The treatment plan should be individualized to suit the patient’s needs. To treat the discomfort, first the underlying cause must be identified. TMD may be caused by overworking the joint, clenching or grinding the teeth, arthritis, or stress.
Once a diagnosis has been made, the best treatment for TMJ pain can be created for you. Plans are designed to relieve stress on the joint. This will reduce the pain and inflammation you may be experiencing. Your personal plan may be a single treatment or a combination, depending upon your situation. Treatment may include:
- A night guard
- Cold compresses
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling or pain
- Lifestyle changes such as relaxation techniques
For patients with minimal dysfunction and discomfort, relief may be found in rest and relaxation. Resting the jaw by eating soft foods and not overextending the jaw may ease your pain. Patients may also train the jaw to move differently or in smaller movements to relieve the stress on the jaw. Others find lifestyle changes helpful. This may include avoiding tough foods or utilizing relaxation techniques as an outlet for stress. Learning to relax the muscles is necessary to reduce muscle tightness. Cold compresses or over-the-counter medications may help reduce the inflammation and relieve your discomfort.
Patients who are experiencing severe symptoms may benefit from an oral appliance. Similar to a mouth guard, an oral appliance is worn at night to protect the teeth from wear and tear or additional jaw strain. Patients wear a night guard while sleeping. When asleep, many patients with TMJ discomfort clench their jaw or grind their teeth without being aware of it. The use of a night guard prevents patients from grinding their teeth, hence, relieving the stress on the jaw.
The goal of any TMJ pain treatment or TMD treatment is to balance the bite and to lower strain on the jaw. Treatments relieve pressure on the jaw and decrease muscle tension. Patients benefit from alleviated pain and symptoms. No more headaches, ear and jaw pain, and joint tenderness. You will be able to eat, speak, and yawn without discomfort.
If you are searching for TMJ pain treatment, contact Dr. Ann Kelley and the staff at Kingsgate Dental Clinic in Kirkland. Call (425) 385-0080.