TMJ Hamilton | Spinel Dental | TMD Pain & Headache


The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) acts like a sliding hinge, connecting your jawbone to your skull. You have one joint on each side of your jaw. TMJ disorders — a type of temporomandibular disorder or TMD — can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement.
Problems with your jaw and the muscles in your face that control it are known as temporomandibular disorders (TMD). But you may hear it wrongly called TMJ, after the joint.
The joint can ultimately be the cause of headaches, jaw clicking or popping, problems opening and closing the mouth and many other symptoms.
At The Spinel Dental our dentists and dental team offering the highest standard of care possible. Our team of dentists are committed to providing patients with the latest techniques and procedures to successfully reduce the symptoms of TMJ Disorder and diminish the effects it has on your day-to-day life.

What is the main cause of TMJ disorder (TMD) ?

The temporomandibular joint helps the mobility of the jaw while you speak, yawn, bite, and chew. Symptoms arise from problems with the muscles of your jaw or with the parts of the joint itself.
The Joint, the Muscles or Both are the Problem.
Injury to your jaw, the joint, or the muscles of your head and neck (like from a heavy blow or whiplash) can lead to TMD. Disorders affecting the joint and muscles can ultimately be caused by:

Arthritis in the joint  
Autoimmune diseases
Physical injury Trauma
Age related wear and tear
Teeth clenching or grinding during sleep
Displacement or Dislocation of the joint cartilage
Imbalance among the jaws
Misaligned bite
Simple overuse

What are the Sign and Symptoms of the TMJ disorders?

TMJ Disorder can be responsible for a number of symptoms. Since many of the symptoms often seem unrelated to the jaw joint, people may not be aware they have TMJ Disorder.

Pain or tenderness in your face, jaw joint area, neck and shoulders
Problems when you try to open your mouth wide
Swelling on the side of your face
Clicking, popping, or grating sounds in the jaw joint when you open or close your mouth or chew. This may or may not be painful.
Difficulty opening and closing the mouth
Difficulty biting, chewing, and/or swallowing
Shoulder pain
Ringing in the ears (TINNITUS)
Numbness in the arms and/or fingers

How do I know if I have TMJ disorder?

Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?

The more times you answered “yes”, the more likely it is that you have a TMJ disorder. Understanding TMJ disorders will also help you understand how they are treated.

What will happen if TMJ disorder is not treated?

If TMJ disorder continues without treatment, several issues could arise. Some of the problems that could develop include arthritis of the jaw, injury, long-term teeth clenching or grinding (leading to wear and tear of the teeth and the need for restorative treatment), and disk erosion (there is a disk that sits within the jaw joint to cushion movement). Comfortable jaw movement is essential to your well being, so if you notice any functional concerns or other symptoms, please let us know.

Is TMJ disorder caused by stress?

Stress may trigger pain in the jaw muscles that is very similar to the pain caused by TMJ problems. Affected patients frequently clench or grind their teeth at night causing painful spasms in the muscles and difficulty in moving the jaw. Patients may also experience a combination of muscle and joint problems (joint clicking or arthritis) That is why diagnosing TMJ disorders can be complex and may require various diagnostic procedures.

How do you diagnose and correct TMJ disorder ?

Primary dentist visit and oral exam is necessary. Reviewing the range of motion of your jaw is one of the many ways we can detect a functional issue with the TMJ. We can also evaluate how the teeth come together, listen for any unusual noises coming from this area, and check for any tenderness. If necessary, X-rays or even a CT scan may be recommended to provide a more detailed image of the anatomical structures.
Treatment for TMJ disorder will depend on each patient’s individual needs. A number of therapies have been shown to alleviate symptoms and/or prevent further damage to the temporomandibular joint. Treatment options include:

Night guards and customized oral appliances
Bite-realignment appliances
Jaw and bite therapies
Neuromuscular dentistry
Restorative dental care
Oral surgery

One of our experienced dentists can meet with you for an evaluation of your symptoms. If you are diagnosed with TMJ disorder, we can create a customized treatment plan designed to give you the most effective results possible.
We want to help you make the best decision for your individual health needs and desired outcome.

How can I fix my TMJ problem at home?

Often jaw problems resolve on their own in several weeks to months. If you have recently experienced TMJ pain and/or dysfunction, you may find relief with some or all of the following therapies. Some things you can do on your own to reduce TMJ disorder effects include reducing tension-related habits.

Applying ice and heat, from a heat pack or a hot water bottle wrapped in a warm, moist towel can improve function and reduce pain. Be careful to avoid burning yourself when using heat. Ice packs can decrease inflammation and also numb pain and promote healing. Do not place an ice pack directly on your skin. Keep the pack wrapped in a clean cloth while you are using it. Do not use an ice pack for more than 10 - 15 minutes.

Eating soft foods. Soft or blended foods allow the jaw to rest temporarily. Remember to avoid hard, crunchy, and chewy foods. Do not stretch your mouth to accommodate such foods as corn on the cob, apples, or whole fruits.

Over the-Counter Painkillers. For many people with TMJ Disorders, short-term use of over-the-counter pain medicines or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), such as ibuprofen, may provide temporary relief from jaw discomfort. When necessary, your dentist or doctor can prescribe stronger pain or anti-inflammatory medications, muscle relaxants, or antidepressants to help ease symptoms.

Exercising your jaw. Slow, gentle jaw exercises may help increase jaw mobility and healing. Your health care provider or a physical therapist can evaluate your condition and suggest appropriate exercises based on your individual needs.  A recent study found therapeutic jaw exercises bring earlier recovery of jaw function compared to splints! Click here to read the specific jaw exercises used in this study.

Relaxation Techniques. Relaxation and guided imagery can be helpful in dealing with the pain that accompanies TMJ dysfunction. Deep, slow breathing enhances relaxation and modulates pain sensations. Some have found yoga, massage, and meditation helpful in reducing stress and aiding relaxation.

Side Sleeping. Sleep on your side using pillow support between shoulder and neck.

Relax Facial Muscles. Make a concerted effort to relax your lips, and keep teeth apart.

Yawning. Use your fist to support your chin as you yawn to prevent damage to the joint and prevent your jaw from locking open.

Avoid: Jaw clenching, Gum chewing, Cradling the telephone, which may irritate jaw and neck muscles.

Be sure to discuss your jaw limitations with your doctor prior to surgery or a long dental appointment so he/she uses extreme caution. Anesthesia, often used during dental procedures, can affect mouth opening and damage the joint. If possible, avoid long dental appointments requiring an open mouth for more than 30 minutes.
Remember, if your TMJ problems get worse with time, you should seek professional advice. However, first and foremost, educate yourself. Informed patients are better able to talk with health care providers, ask questions, and make knowledgeable decisions.

How long does TMD last and Can TMJ disorder be cured permanently?

Whether or not TMJ disorder can be cured will depend on the cause of the condition. In many cases, effective treatment can provide long-lasting relief, even in the event the underlying cause is not eliminated. For instance, arthritis has no cure, but the latest TMJ disorder techniques can help alleviate discomfort nonetheless. We will consider all factors when developing a course of action, particularly with regard to minimizing the causes of this concern.

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