If stress is causing you to grind or clench your teeth while you sleep, it can place substantial pressure on the joints of the jaw. Clenching is just one of the causes of temporomandibular joint disorders (TMD). Often simply referred to as TMJ, temporomandibular joint disorders can be successfully diagnosed and treated by a qualified dentist. Dr. Craig Miller offers TMJ therapy at his dental practice in the Livingston, New Jersey area. If you are experiencing pain or discomfort, know that you have a tendency to grind or clench, or suspect you may be suffering from TMD, contact our office today to schedule an appointment.
The exact causes of TMJ have not been determined, but there are a number of reasons that you may suffer from this condition: it is possible that the disc that separates the bone and cartilage within the jaw has shifted from its proper alignment; Injuries to the joint and surrounding muscle and ligaments can cause TMJ disorders; arthritis, stress, and clenching or grinding your teeth are also large contributors. Whatever the cause of TMD, the pain can be distracting and even debilitating for some patients.
Those suffering from TMD may experience a number of signs and symptoms:
- Misaligned bite
- Swelling or a tired feeling in the face
- Occasional or chronic jaw and neck pain
- Clicking, popping, or grating noise when you use your jaw
- Trouble opening your mouth wide enough for everyday functions
- Frequent headaches, neck aches, or toothaches
- Sensitive, loose, broken or worn teeth
- Difficulty biting or chewing
- Upper shoulder pain
For many patients, the pain tends to worsen during times of increased stress and when they are clenching their teeth, as opposed to grinding.
Treatment of TMD begins with a comprehensive clinical examination, including x-rays, to check your face, jaws, bite, joints, and teeth. Dr. Miller will check for pain and tenderness and listen for clicking or popping when you open and close your mouth, swallow, or chew. If the disorder is diagnosed, a bite splint or mouth guard is usually recommended as the initial treatment.
Our bite splints or mouth guards are custom-created plastic mouthpieces designed to fit over your upper and lower teeth. This type of device prevents the grinding and clenching that often causes or exacerbates TMD. The splint also realigns the jaw, removing stress on the surrounding area. Dr. Miller may recommend that you wear the mouthpiece at all times for an initial treatment period, or a night guard may be prescribed for some patients.
If a misaligned bite or missing teeth are the cause of your symptoms, we may recommend orthodontics or restorative dental work, such as crowns, implants, or dentures. If your bite is placing undue pressure on the TMJ’s, your doctor may reshape individual teeth to redistribute bite force evenly and allow the muscles to function properly. If you do not respond to conservative treatment, Dr. Miller may refer you to an oral surgeon or other specialist.
At the Miller Center, your comfort and oral health are our number one priority. To learn more about how TMJ therapy can restore your comfort, please contact our friendly staff and schedule your appointment today.