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Dr. Michael W. Stuart

Dr. Craig E. Stannebein

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Feeling The Pain Of TMJ? Our Dentist Can Help

  • January 17, 2016
Tooth Removal Services | Billings, MT Dentist | Legacy Smiles

Another day, another headache.

You’ve just woken up, but you don’t feel refreshed at all. You’re in pain. Your head hurts and your jaw is a little sore.

You head to the medicine cabinet for some pain relievers, which you hope will take effect by the time you get out of the shower.

You fix yourself some toast, with a little butter, and some canned preserves. After eating one piece your jaw is starting to ache. What it going on?

It could be a TMJ disorder.

Thankfully, a dentist in Billings, MT, can help. Legacy Smiles can treat TMJ problems … and may fix your headaches, too.

Pain Shouldn’t Be A Routine

If headaches have become an all-to-common part of your morning, then you need to keep reading. Many of your aches and pains may start in your jaw.

TMJ disorder, also known as TMD, starts with the joint that serves as a hinge for your jaw. The TMJ, or temporamandibular joint, is a ball-and-socket joint.

You can find it by touching your jaw near your ear on either side of your face. You can feel it moving by opening and closing your mouth or moving your jaw from side-to-side.

A TMJ disorder does not affect everyone the same way. This means you could experience one or a variety of problems, such as:

  • Constant or recurring jaw pain
  • Jaw pain while eating or after a meal
  • Limited movement of your jaw
  • Temporary inability to move your jaw
  • Headaches, including migraines
  • Earaches
  • Facial pain or tenderness
  • Neck pain
  • Shoulder pain

None of these things by themselves mean that you have a TMJ disorder. However, they are good reasons to get checked for a TMJ. Even if the cause is something else, you will be one step closer to finding the right treatment.

What Causes TMJ Disorders?

The causes of TMD are just as varied as its symptoms. According to The TMJ Association, some of the more common causes are:

➤ Arthritis

➤ Activities when you have your mouth open wide for extended periods of time

➤ Infections

➤ Injuries (such as getting hit in the jaw)

➤ Autoimmune diseases, some of which cause the body to attack its own tissue

➤ Bruxism

Bruxism is a technical term for grinding or clenching your teeth together.

You may think that you don’t do this, but many people who grind their teeth are not aware that they are doing so.

In fact, many people who grind their teeth together do this in their sleep. This could explain your frequent morning headaches and jaw pain.

Other people clench their teeth in response to stress, and we all know that stress can come from a lot of places — work assignments, a particular coworker, issues at home, and unexpected expenses, just to give a few examples.

When you grind your teeth together, you are adding extra pressure on your TMJ and on the muscles and tendons that surround it. This also may explain why you pain extends to your face, neck and shoulders.

What You Can Do To Treat TMJ?

First, you can try some things at home.

Heat can decrease pain. Ice can reduce inflammation. Eating softer foods can make chewing less difficult, and learning relaxation techniques may reduce your stress.

If those don’t work, then you should call Legacy Smiles. We have treated numerous patients with TMJ problems, and we can help you, too.

In this video, you can listen to one of those patients describe how our treatment has helped her.

One of the most effective ways to treated TMD, particularly if it’s caused by bruxism, is a mouthguard.

This is a little different than the ones athletes wear during competition. You wear this mouthguard at night while you are sleeping, and it does two things to help you.

First, the mouthguard prevents your top and bottom teeth from touching. This means you can’t grind them together or clench your teeth.

Second, the mouthguard holds your jaw in a more relaxed position. As you get used to wearing the mouthguard, you will begin to hold your jaw in this position naturally.

This can reduce the added stress on your TMJ, as well as the muscles and tendons connected to your jaw.

Find Out More

Getting rid of your pain could be closer than you think. Just make an appointment to visit our dentist office in or near Billings, MT.

The staff at Legacy Smiles wants you to live comfortably, and ending your TMJ problem will go a long way toward helping you.

To make an appointment, fill out our online form or call (406) 794-3114.


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