Millions of Americans live with the discomfort of headache and jaw pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorder. Most of these people are women, and a great majority lead stressful lives. TMJ/TMD affects nearly a third of the general population. Pain can be felt in different areas of the head, neck and shoulders, although it originates from the muscles and soft tissues of the jaw joint.
Extra stress on this joint caused by grinding the teeth while sleeping, or clenching the jaws make the muscles and soft tissues in the joint area over-fatigued. This stress can cause these structures to become sore and inflamed. Consequently, you feel discomfort, and occasionally it will radiate out from the joint to the neck and shoulders as well as to the head.
Some people experience the discomfort caused by TMJ/TMD occasionally when they are under severe stress. Once the stressful situation is resolved, the discomfort disappears on its own. Others may have a range of discomfort anywhere from mildly annoying to severe pain. We can help alleviate your discomfort at Rock Point Family Dentistry. How your pain is treated depends on the severity of the disorder.
Mild cases of TMJ/TMD may be resolved with simple exercises to relax the jaw muscles. Holistic relaxation techniques may help as well. As you learn to relax in stressful situations you put less stress on your jaw joints, sleep better and handle difficult situations with ease. More aggressive treatment is required in cases where the pain is severe and is not relieved by regular pain medications. Night guards, placed in your mouth to keep your teeth from grinding, may be helpful in eliminating the pain. Once your situation has undergone assessment, your dentist will make recommendations regarding the most efficient method of treating your TMJ/TMD.
There are other conditions that can also cause similar discomfort, so it is necessary to get an accurate diagnosis. Arthritic conditions, such as osteoarthritis, can affect the jaw when it is in motion. TMJ/TMD symptoms are also similar to those of trigeminal neuralgia. This painful condition stems from the nervous system and causes facial pain; however, it has nothing to do with the jaw joint.
If you are experiencing headaches, jaw pain or pain in your neck or shoulder, contact us today to make an appointment to see the dentist at Rock Point Family Dentistry. You may be experiencing TMJ/TMD, and relief may be within your reach.