A surprising number of adolescents and adults are bothered by clicking, popping, pain, or swelling in their jaws. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, between five and 12 percent of people may be affected. There can be any number of explanations for those problems, but one very likely explanation is temporomandibular joint (TMJ) issues.
The temporomandibular joints connect your lower jaw with your upper jaw. The TMJ is a pretty complicated thing so everything has to work right for your jaws to function the way they’re supposed to.
Causes of TMJ Problems
Some people tend to develop jaw problems due to genetics. Others have problems due to arthritis affecting the cartilage in the jaw. Still others may develop problems due to jaw injury from a fall, a vehicle accident, or a blow.
Teeth grinding and jaw clenching have been shown to be factors, but many people who clench or grind their teeth never develop jaw problems. Some connective tissue diseases can also play a role.
Is It TMJ?
In addition to clicks, pops, and pain when you open or close your mouth, signs of TMJ problems can include:
- Your jaw getting “stuck”
- A grating sound when you open your jaw
- Tenderness or sensitivity in the jaw
- Pain in or around your ear
- Pain while chewing
- Migraines or other headaches
- Teeth grinding
That’s not a complete list. TMJ problems tend to show up differently in people. But if you’re experience these kinds of issues, contact our Albuquerque, NM dental practice at 505-407-8781. You’ll be in excellent hands – while attending the prestigious Harvard School of Dental Medicine, Dr. Ryan Shepherd completed extensive research on TMJ issues and the best treatments. He’s highly qualified to assess and treat your problems.
What Can Be Done?
The only way to determine the correct treatment for your issues is schedule a consultation with Dr. Shepherd. He’ll perform a thorough examination and discuss his findings with you.
Depending on your needs, Dr. Shepherd may recommend:
- A custom mouthguard to prevent your teeth from grinding while you sleep. Custom means that you mouthguard is made precisely for you. It will fit, function, and be more comfortable than anything you can buy over the counter.
- Dr. Shepherd is a former massage therapist and knows all too well how stress in the body can lead to physical problems. He’ll demonstrate your “trigger” points and show you the techniques that will allow you to relieve tension yourself.
- Cosmetic dental treatments can be surprisingly effective in helping some people with TMJ problems. If cosmetic treatments are indicated for you, Dr. Shepherd will discuss the options with you.
It’s important to get the underlying cause of your problem treated. Among other things, teeth grinding can weaken your tooth enamel, opening you up to dental problems down the road.
You Don’t Have To Live With TMJ
Don’t put up with the clicking, popping, and pain of TMJ. Safe and effective treatment is available. Call Uptown Dental Associates in Albuquerque, NM today at 505-407-8781 or fill out our online form to request an appointment.