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Understanding TMJ Disorders & Jaw Pain

teeth grinding treatment in Hunt Valley MDJaw pain is a common dental concern that patients visit our office for, looking for solutions. Dr. Ashley Izadi and Dr. Roham Rafat are restorative dentists near Hunt Valley, MD with advanced training and experience in the treatment of jaw pain associated with TMJ disorders. As your trusted restorative dentist in Hunt Valley, MD, we are here to help you solve the mystery that is your jaw pain. Here are some answers to commonly asked questions regarding jaw pain:

What causes jaw pain?

There are many factors that can contribute to you developing pain in your jaw. Most commonly, we see patients with a longstanding history of teeth grinding develop jaw pain. Similarly, people who hold a lot of their stress in their jaw muscles throughout the day are also very likely to develop jaw pain. This is because these actions place your mouth muscles and dental structures under unusually high amounts of pressure for long periods of time. You may also experience jaw pain if you have a misaligned bite pattern or are missing one or more teeth. These dental concerns cause jaw pain because your teeth, gums, and jawbone can become overworked when you are chewing or speaking if all of your dental structures are not where they are supposed to be.

What is a TMJ disorder?

A TMJ disorder is any jaw pain that is associated with the temporomandibular joint of your jaw. Frequently caused by an imbalance in the bite, TMJ has a variety of signs and symptoms including jaw pain, neck pain, tension headaches, or popping and clicking noises when you open or close your mouth.  Few clinicians are trained to properly identify, diagnose, and treat TMJ disorders. However, our team has extensive experience in working with patients with TMJ disorders. You can count on Valley Dental Health for personalized, focused care.

How can TMJ disorders be treated?

This largely depends on the source of your jaw pain. If your jaw pain is associated with a misaligned bite, orthodontics or oral surgery may be recommended. If a missing tooth is the source of your jaw pain, restorative dentistry options may be recommended to replace the tooth and restore the full functionality of your smile. For mild TMJ disorders, a nightguard can help with holding your jaw in a healthier resting position while you sleep. This helps because when you wake up, your jawbone and mouth muscles are fully rested and relieved of all tension. It also helps in protecting your teeth from grinding together while you sleep. A personalized treatment plan for your TMJ disorder will be developed after a thorough evaluation.

My jaw hurts right now. Any advice?

Ibuprofen is a great over-the-counter option for reducing jaw pain. Additionally, holding a cold compress to your cheek will help reduce swelling or inflammation around the irritated joint. We recommend leaving yourself reminders around your workspace and home to take breaks and relax all of your facial muscles. You should also stretch your jaw around several times a day to ensure you are not holding any stress there. The best thing to do for your jaw pain, though, is to schedule an appointment for a TMJ consultation. If you have experienced any symptoms of TMJ, contact Valley Dental Health, and schedule an appointment to discuss your treatment options.