Lake Oswego, OR dentist offers TMJ diagnosis and treatments
At some point in their lives, many people clench or tighten their jaws. Whether done as a result of stress, an overworked jaw, or an injury, it can cause pain and tenderness in the area. Jaw pain or clicking sounds may be caused by TMJ problems. Located in Lake Oswego, OR, Dr. Manami Yamaguchi and the team at Dental Arts and Wellness offer TMJ treatments. Dr. Yamaguchi understands the workings of the jaw and can diagnose problems with the joint. Early diagnosis and treatment are the keys to finding relief.
Understanding the temporomandibular joint
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the point where the temporal bones and jaw connect. This joint allows the jaw to move up and down and side to side. A smooth joint functions and moves without vibrations, clicking, or pain. Over the course of time or if an injury occurs, degeneration, cartilage tears, or displacement can increase friction and vibrations. When trauma occurs, the joint dysfunctions and causes temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD).
Pain near the ears and/or popping noises when opening and closing the mouth are common symptoms of TMD. However, each patient is unique and may have different symptoms of the condition. Symptoms of TMJ may include the following:
- Tenderness or pain in the jaw
- Locked jaws or jaw tightness
- Pain behind the eyes
- Pain when opening the mouth widely or yawning
- Discomfort around the ears when chewing
TMJ diagnosis and treatments
Patients who experience jaw pain or other symptoms of TMD should see help from their dentist. The dentist can diagnose the cause of the discomfort. The dental appointment includes a discussion of the patient’s medical history, lifestyle choices, and symptoms. A thorough examination of the teeth, bite, and jaw joint is done. X-rays or additional tests may help determine the severity of the condition.
Early diagnosis is the key to any dental issue. As a holistic dentist, Dr. Yamaguchi understands the connection between the mouth and the whole person. When the jaw joint is not functioning properly, it impacts the rest of the body. With TMJ, diagnosing and treating early means easing the patient’s pain to be able to eat, speak and even yawn without discomfort. A patient’s treatment plan is customized to his/her individual needs. To treat TMD, the underlying cause must be identified first. The most common causes of TMD include overworking the joint, clenching or grinding the teeth, arthritis, bruxism, or stress.
Once the underlying cause of TMJ pain has been diagnosed, a treatment plan is created. The goal of TMJ treatment is to relieve stress on the joint. This lessens the pain and inflammation of the joint. Depending on the severity of the disorder, a treatment plan may involve a single solution or a combination of treatments. Commonly used treatments include:
- A night guard to keep the teeth from grinding together
- Cold compresses to reduce pain and swelling
- Anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling or pain
- Lifestyle changes such as relaxation techniques
Patients who have minor dysfunction or discomfort may find relief simply by resting the jaw, eating soft foods, and not overextending the mouth. Patients may train the jaw to move differently or in smaller movements. Others use lifestyle changes such as minimizing consumption of foods that are tough to chew or utilizing relaxation techniques to channel stress. Patients must learn to relax the jaw muscles to reduce muscle tightness. Cold compresses or over-the-counter medications may help reduce the inflammation and relieve discomfort.
Patients with more severe symptoms may get relief by wearing an oral appliance. Similar to a mouth guard, the oral appliance is worn at night to protect the teeth from wear and tear or additional jaw strain. Many patients clench their jaws or grind their teeth while sleeping without being aware of it. A night guard prevents teeth grinding and relieves jaw stress.
TMJ pain treatments strive to balance the bite and to lessen strain on the jaw. With the bite in balance, the pressure is relieved. The muscles can relax. Patients benefit from alleviated pain and symptoms. No more headaches, ear and jaw pain, and joint tenderness. The routine actions of yawning, eating, and speaking can occur without pain or discomfort.
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