woman holding a mold of a skull and showing the patient

Have you been struggling with jaw pain and stiffness for a long time? Do you suddenly feel your jaw joints “lock up” when you try to open or close your mouth? Does it seem like your teeth are more worn down than they should be? If any of these issues sound familiar, there could be a problem with the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) that connects your lower jaw to your skull. At Aesthetic Dentistry of Stuart, one of our skilled dentists can examine your jaw for signs of a TMJ disorder (TMD) and create a treatment plan so that you can go through life without having to wrestle with pain on a daily basis. Call us today to set up an appointment and start getting to the bottom of your jaw pain.

Working on model of skull to practice treating TMJ disorder in Stuart, FL

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

There are several possible risk factors for a TMD, and in some cases the exact cause isn’t clear. That said, there are some particularly common culprits.

  • The jaw joint could become strained as a result of bruxism – in other words, repeated grinding and clenching of the teeth.
  • The disc between the ball and socket joint could become dislocated, leading to pain and improper joint function.
  • The TMJ could develop arthritis as a result of injury or wear and tear over time.
  • Elevated estrogen levels (such as that experienced by women of child-bearing age) can make the body’s joints more flexible than normal, which can lead to popping that throws off the balance of the TMJ.

We need to narrow down the root cause of your TMJ disorder, which is why the first step will be to examine the jaw joint carefully.

Man with TMJ disorder in Stuart, FL outside rubbing jaw

What are Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder?

No two cases of TMD are exactly the same, so symptoms can vary somewhat. Common warning signs that there might be a problem with your TMJ include the following:

  • You notice consistent pain or tenderness in your jaw.
  • You suddenly experience pain when you bite or chew your food. You might also just have trouble chewing in general.
  • You experience chronic headaches or what appear to be migraines.
  • You notice pain in one or both TMJs (which are located just in front of your ear).
  • You constantly have aching pain in your ear or in your face.
  • Your jaw joints occasionally lock and stop you from moving your mouth easily.

A TMD is also often accompanied by a clicking sound or grating sensation when you open your mouth, but this isn’t something you necessarily need to worry about if you don’t notice any pain or other TMJ symptoms.

Woman lying back in chair after treatment for TMJ disorder in Stuart, FL

How We Treat TMJ Disorders

Aesthetic Dentistry of Stuart uses neuromuscular dentistry to treat the source of your TMD. After we identify the issue, we’ll discuss possible solutions. In many cases, we can use gentle electrical stimulation to help the muscles in your head and neck relax and release endorphins that soothe your TMJ-related pain. We can go into more detail about your treatment once a proper diagnosis has been made.

Dentist consulting tablet about TMJ disorder in Stuart, FL

TMJ Therapy FAQs

How much do you know about TMJ disorders? Do you fully understand what treatment is going to entail? Helping you make good decisions is an important part of TMJ therapy, which is why we encourage our patients to ask questions during their visits. If there’s something you want to know before your appointment, we invite you to check the frequently asked questions listed below and see if we’ve already provided the answer that you’re looking for.

Learn More

What Caused My TMJ Disorder?

That can be a difficult question to answer because there are multiple possible causes for TMJ-related problems, and in some cases the ultimate root of the disorder is never made clear. That said, there are several contributing factors that we might identify. For example, the upper and lower teeth might not be positioned correctly when the mouth is closed, putting uneven pressure on the jaw. Other risk factors include clenching or grinding of the teeth, trauma to the jaw area, and arthritis. We’ll do all we can to figure out what’s contributing to your TMJ disorder, and we’ll give you suggestions for changes you can make in your daily life that can potentially reduce your symptoms.

What Can I Do at Home to Reduce My TMJ Pain?

In addition to seeking TMJ therapy, it generally helps to:

  • Eat mostly soft foods while staying away from anything that requires you to bite with your front teeth, such as an unsliced apple.
  • Do not chew gum or eat anything that requires excessive amounts of chewing.
  • Be conscious about chewing with both sides of your mouth.
  • Apply moist heat to sore areas of the jaw for 5 to 10 minutes up to four times throughout the day.
  • Gently massage your sore jaw joints on a regular basis.

What Sort of Treatments are Available?

Neuromuscular dentistry focuses on addressing the cause of the problem, which generally lies in the jaw joint, the muscle, or the position of your teeth. One possible solution is to use a TENS unit. TENS stands for transcutaneous electrical neural stimulation. We can use the device to relax the neck and head, thus stimulating the release of endorphins to reduce your pain. Also, we can use electromyography and sonography to accurately diagnose your TMJ issues and help reduce the pain.

Will I Need Surgery for My TMJ Disorder?

Surgery is something of a last resort when it comes to treating TMJ disorders. It’s better to stick with the more conservative forms of treatment offered at Aesthetic Dentistry of Stuart whenever possible, especially if your symptoms aren’t especially severe. In general, surgery is only considered necessary if:

  • You constantly suffer from intense pain whenever you move your mouth.
  • You are unable to completely open or close your mouth.
  • Your disorder is making it difficult for you to eat or drink.
  • Your symptoms continue to get worse even after neuromuscular dental treatments.
  • There are specific structural problems contributing to your TMJ disorder.

Connect WITH US

We look forward to meeting you. Call (772) 463-4026 or request an appointment online to set up your first visit. We’ll be in touch soon.