Persistent discomfort in your jaw tells you it’s time to see a specialist. If you have jaw pain, Lancaster Dental Care Associates and our team of board-certified dental professionals can help. We support patients throughout the Lancaster, California area with a full range of dental services.
You may have heard about TMJ, a disorder of the jaw joint. In fact, TMJ is a subset of TMD or temporomandibular disorder. If you have TMD, you may have other symptoms besides jaw pain including headaches, grinding, a locked jaw or problems chewing.
Why is it important to seek treatment? Pain and other symptoms are often a way to signal that a body system needs adjustment or repair. If your jaw could talk, it would tell you that it needs attention.
Why is early treatment important for TMD?
As with other medical problems, early treatment helps avoid worsening symptoms. Here are some possible complications of untreated TMD.
Increased jaw pain
You likely have jaw discomfort now. You’ve been able to treat on-and-off pain with over-the-counter pain relievers. Untreated TMD pain only gets worse and can lead to chronic pain.
Chronic pain affects all areas of your life, from your ability to concentrate at work to the quality of your relationships. No one wants to live with chronic, unremitting pain, and with today’s modern treatments, you don’t have to.
If you have TMD, you likely have some degree of teeth clenching and teeth grinding. When the habit continues over some time, it wears down your teeth which leads to an increased probability of cracks and fractures.
Once you have a cracked tooth, you likely need a crown to restore it so that bacteria doesn’t enter the tooth and cause an infection.
Because your body’s systems are interconnected, you’re to experience a few headaches as well as jaw pain with TMD. You have muscles near your jaw joint that reach around your skull and into your neck. If the joint is irritated, the muscles are also irritated, which can result in headaches. Without treatment, the headaches are likely to become more frequent.
When joints are inflamed repeatedly, you can develop osteoarthritis meaning your TMD can result in arthritis in your jaw joint. You want to stop the progression at an early stage if possible. Your joint needs relief from the stress it’s under.
Your jaw joint is right beside your ear. If the joint is constantly irritated, your eardrum’s stability may be compromised. When this happens, you can get tinnitus. Tinnitus means your ears hear constant or frequent noise that sounds like ringing, buzzing, or other unpleasant sounds that don’t go away.
Treatment for TMD
Your Lancaster Dental Care specialist examines your mouth, reviews X-rays, and determines which type of treatment you need. TMD may be the result of misalignment of your teeth and a bad bite. If this is the case, you may need bite correction with Invisalign treatment or braces.
In other cases, you may only need a mouthguard. We produce a custom mouth guard or oral splint to give your jaw the rest it needs. We may recommend heat or ice.
If your TMD doesn’t resolve with conservative treatment, we can perform oral surgery to correct the problem. Whether you’re dealing with TMD pain or other dental needs, call Lancaster Dental Care Associates or book an appointment online to get relief fast.