Posts for tag: jaw pain
Chronic jaw pain can be an unnerving experience that drains the joy out of life. And because of the difficulty in controlling it patients desperate for relief may tread into less-tested treatment waters.
Temporomandibular disorders (TMDs) are a group of conditions affecting the joints connecting the lower jaw to the skull and their associated muscles and tendons. The exact causes are difficult to pinpoint, but stress, hormones or teeth grinding habits all seem to be critical factors for TMD.
The most common way to treat TMD is with therapies used for other joint-related problems, like exercise, thermal (hot and cold) applications, physical therapy or medication. Patients can also make diet changes to ease jaw function or, if appropriate, wear a night guard to reduce teeth grinding.
These conservative, non-invasive therapies seem to provide the widest relief for the most people. But this approach may have limited success with some patients, causing them to consider a more radical treatment path like jaw surgery. Unfortunately, surgical results haven't been as impressive as the traditional approach.
In recent years, another treatment candidate has emerged outside of traditional physical therapy, but also not as invasive as surgery: Botox injections. Botox is a drug containing botulinum toxin type A, which can cause muscle paralysis. Mostly used in tiny doses to cosmetically soften wrinkles, Botox injections have been proposed to paralyze certain jaw muscles to ease TMD symptoms.
Although this sounds like a plausible approach, Botox injections have some issues that should give prospective patients pause. First, Botox can only relieve symptoms temporarily, requiring repeated injections with increasingly stronger doses. Injection sites can become painful, bruised or swollen, and patients can suffer headaches. At worst, muscles that are repeatedly paralyzed may atrophy, causing among other things facial deformity.
The most troubling issue, though, is a lack of strong evidence (outside of a few anecdotal accounts) that Botox injections can effectively relieve TMD symptoms. As such, the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has yet to approve its use for TMD treatment.
The treatment route most promising for managing TMD remains traditional physical and drug therapies, coupled with diet and lifestyle changes. It can be a long process of trial and error, but your chances for true jaw pain relief are most likely down this well-attested road.
If you would like more information on treating jaw disorders, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Botox Treatment for TMJ Pain.”
According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, jaw pain caused by TMJ is an oral care issue that affects up to 12 percent of Americans. It has a number of possible causes that are often related to lifestyle factors, repetitive behaviors, or heredity. If you have jaw-related problems, contact Dr. Casey Hart at his office in Marietta, GA, to learn more about TMJ and TMD treatments.
What Is TMJ and TMD?
The upper and lower jaw are connected at the sides by a flexible hinged joint that allows you to open and close your mouth, whether for talking, eating, or simply breathing. TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder, better known as TMD, is a disorder involving an inflammation of those connecting joints or the muscle tissue. Symptoms include:
- Popping and clicking sounds when you open or close your mouth.
- Pain on the sides of the head, near the ears.
- Chronic headaches or migraines.
- Jaw locking and resistance
Causes of TMJ Disorder
Your Marietta, GA TMJ and TMD dentist can help you identify the potential cause of your jaw pain and recommend an appropriate treatment plan. Though experts aren’t a hundred percent sure of what exactly causes TMD, there are a few possible contributing factors:
- Diagnosis of an arthritic condition
- A family history of jaw pain problems
- Stress, which may cause jaw clenching
- Age (older patients are more likely to have this problem)
- A profession or recreational activity that requires shouting for long periods of time, which can aggravate the TMJs
Some patients get relief from TMJ symptoms after wearing a custom mouthpiece for a period of time, as it helps align the jaw in a more favorable position. Ice therapy will also help reduce swelling of the joints. In some cases, an orthodontic treatment may be necessary to change the position of the jawline.
Have Your Jaw Pain Addressed by a Dentist
If your TMJ and TMD jaw pain has become either more advanced or a major distraction, Dr. Casey Hart can help you at his dentist office in Marietta, GA. Call the office at (770) 926-8371 today to schedule a consultation.
Do you wake up in the morning with a stiff, aching jaw? You may have TMJ/TMD. Marietta, GA, dentist Dr. Casey Hart discusses common symptoms and explains what you can do to relieve your pain.
Do I have TMJ/TMD?
Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD) affects your temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Although TMD is the more accurate term, the condition is often called both TMJ and TMD. The condition affects the hinge joints in your jaw. When the muscles, ligaments or tendons in the joint become inflamed or strained, pain and other symptoms can occur. If you have TMD, you may experience:
- Stiff jaw muscles
- Pain in your jaw and face
- Trouble chewing or opening and closing your mouth
- Locking jaw joints
- Popping or cracking sounds accompanied by pain
- Sore neck, shoulder and upper back muscles
- Ear pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Teeth that don't fit together easily
- Facial swelling
What can I do about TMD pain?
Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication can be very helpful in reducing pain and swelling caused by TMD. In addition to taking the medication, you may also wish to apply heat or ice packs to your face periodically. When your TMD flares up, it's best to avoid eating hard or crunchy foods. Softer foods won't strain your already stiff jaw muscles and will allow your jaw time to rest.
Stretching exercises can also be helpful in reducing stiffness in your jaw muscles. When you exercise your jaw, be sure to use gentle movements that don't increase pressure on your jaw. Stress tends to make TMD symptoms worse. If you believe that stress contributes to your condition, try yoga, meditation or any other activity that helps you relax.
If home treatment doesn't reduce your pain, visit our Marietta office. We can recommend several treatments that may be helpful in treating your TMD symptoms. For example, if a bite problem or nighttime grinding habit contributes to your pain, we may recommend that you begin orthodontic treatment or might suggest that you protect your teeth with a mouthguard at night. Some people can also benefit from splints that reposition their jaws and decrease pressure that can cause TMD symptoms.
Ease your TMJ/TMD pain with a visit to Dr. Casey Hart. Schedule a visit with his Marietta, GA, office by calling (770) 926-8371.