Are you feeling persistent aching or soreness in your jaw? Chronic jaw pain, or oral pain of any kind, is abnormal and could lead to lasting damage to the jawbone and your smile if you ignore it. Pain in the jaw may worsen and lead to temporomandibular joint disorders, also known as TMJ.
Your dentist can treat TMJ, bringing you relief from pain and dysfunction in the jaw from this irritation and inflammation. Treatment will depend on the root cause of your symptoms. Read on to find three potential dental treatments that could help you alleviate discomfort associated with TMJ.
How to Relieve TMJ Symptoms
Practice Stress Relief Activities
TMJ occurs when muscles in the jaw joint experience strain, which can often occur due to tension stemming from stress. Stress negatively impacts many parts of the body, but it can cause you to clench or grind your teeth, tightening the muscles which will then lead to pain and problems using your jaw.
In mild cases of TMJ, your dentist might suggest stress relief therapy, including deep breathing exercises, to release tension and stop creating pressure that will hurt your jaw. They may also recommend facial stretches that will target the tight muscles in the jaw and loosen them, alleviating your symptoms.
When you tell your dentist about your concerns about your jaw, they will perform an exam to diagnose the cause of this problem. Your treatment plan will depend on this exam, your lifestyle, and your budget.
Wear a Night Guard
Many dental patients will grind or clench their teeth unconsciously in their sleep. If you exhibit this behavior, your dentist might create a custom night guard for you to wear as you sleep.
This oral appliance will cushion your teeth against the pressure generated by teeth grinding. Then the tension will not build and radiate to your jaw to leave you with TMJ symptoms.
It will also keep your jaw in a resting position so that the muscles can feel relaxed as you sleep. The custom fit of this device will ensure it remains comfortably and securely in place throughout the night.
Align Your Smile
Sometimes TMJ can develop due to bite problems or misalignments in the teeth or jaw. These can form due to genetics or due to poor oral habits. If you have crooked teeth, you might distribute uneven pressure when biting or chewing.
This can lead to strain on the jaw joint that might cause TMJ. Your dentist can evaluate your dental structure using x-ray imaging. If you have crooked, overlapped, or gapped teeth or a misaligned jaw, they might refer you to an orthodontist.
The orthodontist can straighten your smile with different treatments that suit your unique dental needs, like braces or Invisalign. Aligning your teeth and jaw will relieve pressure that should resolve your TMJ disorders. Schedule a consultation with your dentist to find relief from jaw pain and dysfunction.