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Dr. Michael W. Stuart

Dr. Craig E. Stannebein

2700 Grand Avenue, Suite D. Billings, MT 59102

Monday - Thursday 8am-5pm
Friday by Appointment Only

(406) 794-3114

Don’t Let TMJ Problems Ruin Your New Year | Billings, MT

  • December 24, 2015

We hope that you and your family enjoy a happy holiday season. Christmas is here, and the New Year is close behind. When you think back on the past year, we hope you have several good memories of time spent with your family and friends.

Unfortunately, if you are suffering from a TMJ disorder, your past year may have more memories of pain than of good times.

How do you know if you have a TMJ disorder? We will tell you, and we will show you how Legacy Smiles dentist office in Billings can end your pain so 2016 will be a little easier.

Causes of TMD

TMD, or TMJ disorders, arise from problems with your temporomandibular joint. If you touch your jaw at the point where it connects to your skull, then you are touching this ball-and-socket-joint.

This joint allows you to open and close your mouth, which is essential for speaking and for chewing your food.

When you have a TMD, jaw pain is one of most common symptoms of your condition. The reasons for this pain, however, can vary.

A traumatic injury is one possible cause of TMJ disorders. Falling and hitting your face or jaw on the ground, being in accident, or getting hit in the face can all lead to TMD.

We aren’t saying you should quit playing hockey or basketball, just remember to play safe (which includes wearing an athletic mouthguard).

Other common causes of TMJ problems are misaligned teeth, which may be contributing to bite issues, and arthritis, which can cause inflammation of your temporomandibular joint.

Last but not least is bruxism, a term that refers to grinding or clenching your teeth. Bruxism can happen to anyone, but it is more common in women than men, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research.

In many cases, people who grind and clench their teeth are not aware that they are doing so. Lots of people with this problem do this in their sleep, and many people do it as an involuntary reaction to stress in their lives.

Effects of TMJ disorders

You may be wondering how you can tell if you have TMD. There are several symptoms, one of which — jaw pain — we already mentioned.

If you are clenching or grinding your teeth in your sleep, you may notice that your jaw frequently feels sore when you wake up.

If you are feeling this pain during the day, try to make a note of what you were doing or thinking about before you noticed the pain. You may find a link between your jaw pain and stressful situations.

You also should pay attention to jaw pain during meals or after you have finished eating.

Jaw pain may be the most common symptom, but it is hardly the only one. Here are some other signs that you may have a TMJ disorder:

– Pain in your face

– Pain in your neck and shoulders

– Stiffness in your jaw muscles

– Limited movement of your jaw

– Your jaw becoming stuck in an open or closed position

– Frequent headaches, including migraines

– Earaches

– Clicking or popping noises when you open and close your jaw

None of these symptoms are exclusive to TMJ disorders, but if you are experiencing any symptom frequently or multiple symptoms, then you should talk to someone about the possibility of TMD.

TMJ disorder treatment

One possible treatment for TMJ problems can be found here at Legacy Smiles. Patients whose TMJ is the result of bruxism can be fitted with what is known as an occlusal splint.

Most patients will wear this custom-fitted mouthpiece while they sleep. The splint reduces the stress on your jaw joint, and it prevents your top and bottom teeth from touching one another. In so doing, you are prevented from grinding or clenching your teeth.

For patients whose TMJ disorder is a the result of a bite issue, we have a different treatment. We can sometimes change how your teeth fit with one another by making adjustments to your bite or placing dental crowns.

This can help your jaw relax by relieving the pressure you put on your TMJ.

Don’t live with the pain for another year

If too much of 2015 was affected by headaches, facial tenderness, and jaw pain, you don’t want 2016 to be the same.

Talk to our dentist at Legacy Smiles in Billings about TMJ disorders and treatments. Call 406-794-3114 or use our online form to make your appointment. If you are new to the area or to our practice, please use our new patient form to plan your visit.

Let us help you start living pain-free again.

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