If you move your jaw around a little bit, those two joints you feel right in front of your earlobes are actually called the TMJ, and they are what allow your jaw to move fluidly whenever you eat, speak, laugh, or yawn. Like other joints in the body, they can sometimes develop issues due to strain or injury, leading to what is called a TMJ disorder, or TMD. People with TMD can exhibit symptoms like a painful jaw, chronic headaches, and may even develop neck and shoulder pain. At Woodcreek Family Dental, our team can identify and treat these kinds of issues, so if you’re in need of relief from persistent pain, be sure to give us a call today.
Bruxism is a very common condition where a person clenches their jaw and grinds their teeth while they sleep. According to research, as many as 1 in 3 people suffer from it, including children! Over time, grinding can severely damage the teeth and even strain the jaw. If this is an issue for a patient, we recommend they wear a nightguard while sleeping. This is a small, custom-made mouthpiece that will provide a protective barrier between the teeth so they cannot grind together.
An occlusal adjustment can help those patients whose TMD is caused by a misalignment of the bite, which prevents the jaw joint from reaching its natural resting position. The easiest way to address this is by simply fixing the misalignment, which we can do by slightly reshaping a few key teeth so they come together properly. We usually only need to remove a few millimeters of enamel to accomplish this, meaning the treatment doesn’t affect the appearance of the smile.
An occlusal splint is a type of orthopedic mouthpiece that a patient wears while sleeping. It helps with TMD by slightly repositioning the jaw into a more natural orientation in order to allow the joint and associated muscles to relax and heal. After a while, the jaw should “learn” to stay in this new position, enabling a patient to go throughout their day without any pain. It can also help protect the teeth from grinding while they sleep.