Do you suffer from jaw pain, headaches, or a clicking jaw? Our DC TMJ dentists can help. We offer state-of-the-art, non-invasive therapies for your TMJ pain to reduce your discomfort and improve your quality of life.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is your jaw joint. TMJ syndrome or TMD (temporomandibular disorder) is a medical problem related to the function of the jaw joint. This usually manifests itself as a popping, clicking, or rustling in the jaw joint and can be accompanied by jaw joint or muscle pain, a jaw that locks in position or is difficult to open, headaches, ringing in the ears, and sometimes even numbness in the face and fingertips. Bruxism is a condition where you grind and clench your teeth, usually at night. If you suspect you have TMJ or bruxism, refrain from diagnosing it yourself. Make an appointment at DC Dental Spa to receive an accurate diagnosis before proceeding with any treatment. These two conditions can present similar symptoms, making it easy to mistake one for the other.
Our caring and compassionate team at DC Dental Spa are experienced with both TMJ-TMD and Bruxism. We are quite competent with this technology in our friendly atmosphere, which helps us comfortably evaluate your problem to devise a solution quickly. Call 202-873-1054 for your initial consultation and let us help you decide which treatment is best for your TMJ-TMD or Bruxism problems.
The Causes and Symptoms of TMJ-TMD
TMJ-TMD is a dysfunction of the temporomandibular joint, which connects your jaw to your skull. Every time you open or close your mouth, you are using your temporomandibular joint. Since this is such a commonly used joint, severe TMJ-TMD can affect your quality of living. A dysfunction in this joint can have many possible causes:
- A direct injury to the joint
- Abnormal bite or teeth alignment
- Excessive stress on the jaw muscles, which can be caused by bruxism
These are some of the suspected causes, it is often hard to determine the exact cause of TMJ-TMD. If you develop dysfunction in your temporomandibular joint, you may experience some of the following symptoms:
- Popping sounds when you open or close your jaw
- Earaches or ringing in your ears
- Jaw clenching
- Sore jaw and painful jaw
- Pain while chewing
- Locking of your jaw or a difficulty opening and closing your jaw
- A Pain that radiates from the joint to your temples, face, neck, or shoulders
The Causes and Symptoms of Bruxism
Bruxism is the teeth grinding or the clenching of your teeth, most commonly at night, but you may clench and grind your teeth during the daytime as well. Daytime bruxism is called awake bruxism and nighttime bruxism is called sleep bruxism.
As with TMJ-TMD, it is often difficult to determine the cause of bruxism. Some of the common suspected causes include:
- Stress and anxiety
- Sleep apnea
- Certain medications
- Misalignment of your jaw
- Excessive drug, alcohol, and tobacco use
Regardless of the cause of your bruxism, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Tooth sensitivity and toothaches
- Broken, chipped, or cracked teeth
- Worn or flattened teeth
- Jaw or face pain
- Jaw soreness
- Disrupted sleep (your partner might also experience disrupted sleep if your grinding is loud)
Diagnosis of TMD-TMJ and Bruxism
TMJ and Bruxism problems are usually diagnosed through a detailed examination by DC Dental Spa. We will look for evidence of TMJ-TMD and Bruxism on your teeth, mouth, gums, and tongue, palpate the muscles of your head, neck and shoulders to determine your level of tenderness, measure the range of motion in your lower jaw, conduct a scan of your jaw joints using JVA (joint vibration analysis), and perform a diagnostic imaging (MRI or cone-beam x-rays).
After we evaluate you and determine the severity of your TMJ-TMD, we will recommend treatment that will work best for you. Some of those treatments might include:
- Using a night guard
- Physical therapy
- Over-the-counter pain relief medications
- Cold or hot therapy
- Relaxation techniques
- Jaw exercises and stretches to relieve pain
- Avoiding extreme and repetitive jaw movements, like yawning or chewing gum
- Surgery for extreme or stubborn cases
For most patients, the TMJ-TMD problem can be treated with a specially designed, plastic guard that is worn over the teeth at night. The guard be must be customized to the individual’s particular situation. One size fits all solutions (like nightguards available in drugstores) may not solve the problem and can even make it worse.
If you infrequently experience jaw joint problems, then self-care practices may be enough to control the problem. This might include stress management like yoga or meditation, gentle stretching and massaging of the jaw joint muscles, the application of heat or ice packs, avoiding chewing gum, and not opening your mouth excessively wide.
Botox is another highly effective treatment for TMJ-TMD pain. DC Dental Spa injects Botox into your overly tight, painful facial muscles to relax these areas, minimizing the TMJ-TMD discomfort. Botox also decreases nighttime clenching forces and decreases daytime TMJ-TMD pain. The Botox treatment lasts 3-4 months and is repeated, as necessary.
Wearing a night guard is the most common treatment for bruxism, but it certainly is not the only option. Treatments for bruxism are aimed at reducing symptoms and/or eliminating your bruxism altogether. Treatment options include:
- Stress management and relaxation techniques
- Practicing consciously properly aligning your jaw
- Icing your jaw
- Braces to properly align your teeth
- Muscle relaxants
- Botox for bruxism to weaken the muscles responsible
We most likely will recommend a bruxism guard. This is a different type of mouthguard than the kind used for TMJ-TMD. A bruxism mouth guard is worn on either your upper or lower teeth, and it can be made of a hard-plastic material or a softer, more pliable material. We may recommend a certain type of dental night guard that will work best for you and your bruxism. You can also purchase an over-the-counter mouth guard, or it can be a custom mouth guard for grinding teeth. If you get a custom fitted night guard at DC Dental Spa you will see your symptoms of bruxism reduce.
High Quality Care You Can Trust
Our DC Dental Spa downtown office will make our schedule work for you in accommodating your busy schedule. Our entire staff is compassionate and caring and shares in your results and your satisfaction that comes with the continued development of lasting relationships with each of our patients. We are quite grateful for your trust that you place in us. We focus on being patient and considerate about exercising preventative overall dental health and delivering the enjoyment that comes with your healthy smile. Visit us today at DC Dental Spa, 730 24th St. NW, Suite 9, Washington, DC, 20037, or call 202-873-1054 for an evaluation and consultation to address your options when it comes to improving your life by treating your TMJ-TMD or bruxism.