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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.