Jaw Pain Relief with TMJ Therapy
At Pearl Dental Care, Drs. Gary and Scott Pearl and our experienced team provide safe and effective care with a focus on patient and customer service. We are proud to offer a full array of dental services and treatment to patients visiting our office in Hamden, Connecticut, located within a convenient distance from surrounding areas, including New Haven, North Haven Woodbridge, East Haven, Cheshire, and Wallingford. A condition we see many patients suffering from is TMD, also called TMJ (temporomandibular joint) Disorder. The TMJ connects the upper and lower jaw, creating a hinge that allows it to open and close as needed. Without it, you would not be able to eat or speak properly because you cannot open your jaw. When a strain or injury occurs to this joint or its surrounding muscles, what results is discomfort and pain that can often be relieved through appropriate treatment or therapy. TMD can also be present with other orofacial pain. We also treat orofacial pain caused by muscle pain. The muscles that cause orofacial pain can be in the face, forehead, sides of the head, or even the neck. Pain can be felt at the source of the muscle causing the pain (myalgia) or it can be referred from other muscles (myofascial pain).
Common TMD Signs
Some of the common symptoms of TMD can include:
- Discomfort or pain in and around the jaw joint
- A popping or cracking sound when you open or close your jaw
- Your jaw locks when opened or closed
- Related conditions including bruxism, a chronic clenching or grinding of the teeth
- Pain that shoots up to the ears and back down through your neck and shoulders
- Chronic tension headaches
Common symptoms of orofacial pain include:
- Pain in the face, jaw, mouth, or neck
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
Available Treatments For TMD
When treating TMD, there is no single treatment that works for everyone. Several forms of treatment are available, including taking a muscle relaxer, wearing an oral appliance, doing jaw exercises at home, or undergoing orthodontic treatment. Our team will perform an evaluation to determine if you are dealing with this condition and then work with you to help find the right solution for your unique needs. There is no “one size fits all” solution for this condition, so it is recommended to try various treatment options.
Custom oral appliances such as nightguards, NTI, and other orthotic devices can be fabricated to relieve muscle and joint tension. A digital scan (not a goopy impression) is taken and an appliance is fabricated that will help you the best. Some appliances cover all of the teeth and others only the front teeth (NTI). In addition, how the teeth can slide over the appliance can vary based on your individual problem. Appliances can be hard or soft.
Dr. Scott Pearl is trained and certified by the American Academy of Facial Esthetics (AAFE) to administer botulinum toxin (Botox) and other injectables for the treatment of TMJ and orofacial pain. By administering Botox into the facial muscles that are causing pain, a tremendous amount of relief can be felt within a few days after treatment. Dr. Pearl has been able to relieve pain in patients who have been to other dentists and physicians who could not find any solution. By calming down muscles with Botox, a life without pain can actually be realized even after no other options have worked. We welcome a consultation appointment to see if injectables are a good fit for you.
The Link Between TMD And Bruxism
Derived from the Greek word “brukhein,” bruxism refers to chronic teeth grinding and clenching. For some, bruxism is only an issue at night while sleeping. For others, it is brought on by the stress of the day. Whatever the reason, when you clench your jaw, it can create undue stress on your temporomandibular joint due to the constant force you exert, leading to TMD. Bruxism can also lead to issues such as uneven tooth wear or broken teeth. In extreme cases, it can even lead to damaged nerves and roots.
Choosing a dental nightguard that slips over the teeth comfortably while you sleep is one way you can help reduce the impact of bruxism. A nightguard is custom-fit to be comfortable and remains snugly in place. The thermoplastic material serves as a direct cushion between teeth and helps to spread the bite force evenly over your dentition. For other people, Botox can have truly life changing benefits.