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TMJ/TMD Therapy – Lakeway, Austin, TX

Find Relief from Persistent Jaw Pain

Closeup person grimacing and holding jawDid you know that between five and 10 percent of people suffer from temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD)? This painful condition can lead to difficulty chewing, persistent jaw aches, clicking in the jaw, the sensation of lockjaw, and a long list of other symptoms. If you’ve been struggling to cope with such issues, we invite you to visit us for a consultation. Our dentists are experts on how the orofacial structures function, and they may be able to provide therapy that helps you find relief from your pain.

What Exactly Is TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) in Lakeway are the joint that connect the lower jaw to the rest of the skull. TMD is a dysfunction of the muscles and/or jaw joint whereby one or all of the opening, closing, and chewing functions are negatively affected. Although the exact cause of TMD often remains a mystery, possible initiators include:

  • Tension
  • Stress
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Conscious or unconscious clenching and grinding of the teeth
  • Bite changes from split teeth or recent dental treatment
  • Misaligned/poor fitting teeth
  • Caffeine and other stimulants
  • Dental infection
  • Trauma to certain areas of the jaw
  • Primary degenerative joint disease (this is quite rare)
  • Poor posture
  • Poorly fitting dentures
  • Excessive gum chewing

Diagnosis and Treatment

diagnosing jaw painSadly, doctors often misdiagnose TMD because the symptoms so often go beyond the jaw and mouth. In some cases, TMD can lead to persistent headaches, neck pain, or ringing in your ears. More rarely, it can even lead to pressure behind the eyes as well as dizziness and vertigo. Some physicians attempt to address these isolated symptoms rather than consider that TMD may be to blame.

Have you been experiencing jaw pain or other symptoms that may be connected to TMD? If so, you should visit a dentist in Lakeway, such as one of the doctors at Eaddy Dentistry, who has undergone training in how to diagnose and treat TMD. After they ask you some questions and examine your orofacial structures, they may be able to pinpoint the cause of your problems and design a treatment plan that is tailored to your unique needs.

Typically, initial treatment is intended to resolve muscle tension and dysfunction in hopes that the TMD will then resolve. Treatment options include, but are not limited to:

  • Warm moist heat
  • Topical and systemic non-steroidal anti-inflammatories
  • Muscle relaxants
  • Bite splint therapy
  • Physical therapy
  • Counseling
  • Stress relief techniques
  • Facial exercises

If a misaligned bite is the cause of the problem, orthodontic treatment may be necessary to reposition the teeth and allow improved jaw function.

If the TMD is more chronic and/or changes in the joint occur, resolution will be more difficult. In these cases, an MRI may be recommended to visualize the functional status of the jaw joint. Then, a qualified professional can determine the need for primary joint treatment with procedures intended to loosen the joint and resolve joint adhesions, reduce joint inflammation, or surgically repair the joint. 

Occlusal Splint Therapy

dental patient touching jawOne of the primary ways in which we treat TMD is with the use of occlusal splints. An occlusal splint is a small, custom-made oral device that separates the teeth and creates a level surface upon which you can comfortably close the mouth in any position, including the most ideal, natural jaw joint position.

By separating the teeth, learned muscle closure patterns and tooth proprioception (your body’s natural awareness of the position of your teeth) are eliminated. Consequently, the muscles are able to relax and symptoms often resolve. Physical therapy may be required to relieve more refractory muscle cramping and trismus (jaw muscle spasms). This combination of therapies is often the most conservative, cost-effective treatment approach.

If you believe you have TMD, don’t hesitate to seek help! Proper diagnosis and treatment may be able to relieve your pain and improve your quality of life. Contact Eaddy Dentistry to learn more and schedule a consultation with our dentists.

TMJ Therapy FAQs

Concerned man, jaw

Have any questions about TMJ disorder? We want our patients at Eaddy Dentistry to be well-informed about the treatment they’re receiving and why it’s necessary. For your convenience, here are the answers to several questions that many of our patients have asked regarding TMD. Of course, you should always feel free to voice any additional concerns during your appointment.

Are Popping Jaws Part of TMD?

Sometimes, TMD is accompanied by a popping or clicking in the jaw joints when you open and close your mouth, such as when chewing or speaking. That said, some patients might experience such clicking without an underlying disorder. Thus, you’ll need a consultation to determine whether said noises are a symptom of TMD or something else, especially if you’re also experiencing headaches or jaw pain.

On some occasions, TMD can cause your jaw to become temporarily locked in place; again, the best way to find the root cause is an examination from your dentist.

Is TMD Life-Threatening if It’s Not Treated?

The good news is that by itself, TMD isn’t life-threatening even if it’s ignored. With that said, the various symptoms (headaches, neck and shoulder pain, ringing ears) tend to become worse over time. Moreover, studies have found that TMD has been linked depression and anxiety. This is attributed to the chronic pain affecting your overall mood as well as your ability to sleep.

Most seriously, you may also develop an airway sleep disorder that stops you from getting enough oxygen during the night, which can have serious long-term health consequences.

Will My TMJ Therapy Be Covered by Insurance?

Most dental insurance plans don’t typically include TMJ therapy in Lakeway as part of their normal coverage, though some plans might pay for part of your care. We’ll go over your plan with you and make sure you receive any benefits you’re entitled to. We also offer CareCredit as a financing option for our patients; there are several plans available, and little to no interest is included. Overall, we’re willing to work with you to help form a plan to get the treatment you need while staying within your budget.

Can I Treat My TMD at Home?

In addition to professional treatment, there are various steps you can take at home to deal with discomfort caused by TMD. For example, a hot water bottle could reduce the pain while an ice pack can decrease inflammation; over-the-counter pain medications might also help.

Soft or blended foods (scrambled eggs, applesauce, smoothies and so on) can give your jaw a chance to rest; you should avoid particularly hard or crunchy foods, as well as corn on the cob or whole fruits that require you to stretch your jaws.

In general, you should make an effort to keep your lips relaxed and your teeth apart. If you yawn, support your chin with your fist.

Will I Need Surgery?

Surgery is only used to treat TMD when more conservative treatments fail. Your dentist in Lakeway will always recommend occlusal splint therapy and home remedies before discussing whether surgery is necessary.