TMJ/TMD treatment in Rice Military

What does TMJ/TMD mean?

TMJ is short hand for the temporomandibular joint. Similarly, TMD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. They are typically used interchangeably when describing the pain and compromised movement of the jaw joint as well as the surrounding muscles. As the joint inflames, it can be incredibly painful for patients and often causes lock jaw, jaw clicking, and difficulty chewing or opening the mouth wide. If you are struggling with jaw pain, contact your Rice Military dentist. We also proudly serve the neighborhoods of Houston Heights and Washington Heights.

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Did you know…

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TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is the body part.TMD (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) is the disorder. 

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What to expect at your TMJ/TMD consultation

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Discuss Symptoms & Pain

To begin, you’ll have a conversation with your dentist, and discuss the pain that you’re experiencing, as well as other symptoms like jaw “popping” or “clicking,” facial soreness, lockjaw, and any other issues that may be affecting your jaw and your mouth.

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Comprehensive Exam & Diagnosis

Your dentist will provide you with a comprehensive exam, which will typically include jaw x-rays or panoramic x-rays to examine the health and position of your jaws and the other structures of your face. After evaluating all the information, your dentist in Rice Military will determine if TMD is the issue.

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Recommended Treatment Plan

After diagnosis, your dentist will provide you with a treatment plan. This could include things like lifestyle changes, as well as treatment with a night guard for teeth grinding or an oral appliance that will help adjust the position of your jaws and encourage healing while you sleep.

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Specialist Referral

In some cases, your jaw issues may be too complex to be treated by a dentist alone. You may need a referral to an oral surgeon or a TMJ/TMD expert for further diagnosis and treatment. 

TMJ/TMD Treatment Options

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Night Guard

A night guard may be prescribed to protect your teeth and help with the effects of teeth grinding (bruxism), which is a common cause of TMD. Night guards look similar to a mouthguard or retainer, and are made of a thick plastic material. They are typically custom-fitted to your top teeth, and are worn at night when you sleep.

The plastic prevents your teeth from contacting each other directly, which helps reduce the damage done by teeth grinding, and also helps prevent grinding. This, in turn, can help reduce the symptoms of TMD.

Did you know…

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TMD pain can extend to the neck, ear, face, upper back and shoulders. It can also cause migraines. 

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Have questions about TMJ/TMD? Find answers here

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What are TMD symptoms?

The symptoms of TMD vary quite a bit depending on the patient. You may experience issues like: 

  • Pain and stiffness around your jaw Migraine headaches
  • Clicking or popping noises when moving your jaw 
  • Difficulty opening your jaws all the way
  • Pain when chewing or eating

If you notice any of these symptoms, we recommend scheduling an appointment with your dentist in Rice Military, TX right away to get help.

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What causes TMD? 

TMD and TMJ pain is caused by a variety of different issues:

  • Direct trauma to the temporomandibular joint
  • Bite and tooth alignment issues
  • Bruxism or teeth grinding
  • Lifestyle issues, such as excessive gum chewing
  • Inflammatory and autoimmune disorders, like arthritis

Because TMD and TMJ pain can be caused by so many different health issues, it’s important to see an experienced dentist when seeking care.

Can TMD go away on its own?

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Some cases of mild TMD may go away on their own with lifestyle changes, such as ceasing gum chewing, de-stressing to eliminate teeth clenching, and more. However, if you suffer from the symptoms of TMD for more than a week or two, your condition may be chronic. To learn more about your specific case of TMD, it’s best to seek a qualified, experienced dentist to get the help you need.

How can I treat TMJ pain on my own?

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There are a few steps you can take to treat TMJ pain on your own. Jaw exercises may help strengthen the jaw muscles and joints, which can help provide you with relief from the effects of TMD.

In addition, applying hot and cold compresses to the area at 10-minute intervals can help with inflammation and control the pain and discomfort of TMD as your jaw heals. 

It’s also a good idea to take steps to decrease jaw clenching, such as exercising and de-stressing to reduce the likelihood of nighttime teeth grinding. You may also want to consider ceasing gum chewing, and eating a diet of mostly soft foods to minimize the work your jaw muscles must do while they heal. 

You can also use over-the-counter medicines like ibuprofen and acetaminophen to help control pain and inflammation as your jaw heals, and you recover from TMD. 

While some cases of TMD are minor and can be resolved with these simple steps and other at-home remedies, you should consider seeking help if you experience serious pain and discomfort, or if your symptoms persist for 1-2 weeks or longer. 

Did you know…

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Stress can make TMD worse. Clenching of the jaw and bruxism can wear out the jaw and enhance TMJ pain.  

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