Jaw pain, tension headaches, and facial soreness are some of the first symptoms you may notice if you are experiencing a TMJ disorder. TMJ disorders are any type of pain or discomfort that stems from issues with the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the jaw to the skull. This joint is responsible for help you bite into your food, chew food, speak, and smile. These daily tasks can become challenging if the TMJ is injured or inflamed. Once it becomes injured or inflamed, it can cause many other uncomfortable symptoms that make it hard to focus on anything else. Dr. James Furgurson is a general dentist that offers TMJ therapy in Chapel Hill, NC. He has advanced training in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ Disorders. He can help you come up with a plan to effectively treat your existing symptoms and prevent others from occurring in the future.
What causes a TMJ Disorder?
In most cases, it may be difficult for a medical professional to figure out what has caused a TMJ disorder. It can develop from a single cause or several factors. In a lot of the cases we treat, it is often not clear at all how it has developed. The following are a list of factors that can contribute to a TMJ disorder:
- Bruxism: Clenching or grinding teeth while you sleep can put a lot of strain on the TMJ and surrounding muscles.
- Malocclusion: A misaligned bite or teeth can affect how the jaw joint functions which will lead to TMJ issues.
- Stress: Dealing with any type of stress including emotional or physical stress can lead to tension in facial and jaw muscles, contributing to TMJ discomfort.
- Arthritis: Conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis can damage the TMJ’s cartilage and joint components.
- Injury: Any type of injury to the jaw, head, or neck from accidents or sports injuries can lead to TMJ problems.
- Chewing Habits: Excessive gum chewing or consistently favoring one side while chewing food can strain the TMJ.
- Posture: Poor posture, especially when using digital devices, can affect neck and jaw alignment.
- Genetics: Some individuals may be predisposed to developing TMJ disorders due to their genetic makeup.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may be intermittent or persistent. If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s advisable to consult a dentist or medical professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.
In almost all cases, a TMJ related disorder will cause tooth wear and may contribute to tooth decay and/or (gum) disease. Many patients with TMJ disorders grind or clench their teeth due to an imbalance in the bite. Below are a list of common TMJ symptoms we see. They range from mild to severe. Some people experience persistent pain while others experience intermittently.
Common TMJ Symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching, often characterized by tooth wear
- Neck and shoulder pain
- Limited mobility in the jaw
- Clicking or popping when opening or closing jaw
Treating a TMJ Disorder with TMJ Therapy in Chapel Hill, NC
Every patient who visits our Chapel Hill dentist office will receive a thorough evaluation of their dental health. This includes an evaluation of the teeth, gums and the temporomandibular joints (TMJ). Dr. Furgurson and Dr. White will look for any signs of malocclusion or dysfunction in your bite such as worn or damaged teeth. They will also discuss any discomfort or symptoms you may be experiencing that can indicate a TMJ related disorder.
Using 2-D and 3-D study models of your mouth, Dr. Furgurson can pinpoint the source of dysfunction and create a personalized treatment plan to bring your smile back into harmony. Each TMJ treatment plan that we offer is tailored specifically to your needs.
TMJ Treatment can include:
- Occlusal equilibration, making changes to the fit of the bite by reshaping and/or removing tooth structure
- Splint therapy
- TMJ mouthguard
TMJ therapy is often accompanied by restorative dentistry to repair worn teeth or damaged teeth.
TMJ Therapy FAQs
To learn more about TMJ disorders and TMJ therapy, read through our frequently asked questions section. If you have further questions, please contact us.
My jaw hurts right now. What can I do?
If you are currently experiencing a flare up of jaw pain, our best advice is to schedule an appointment with us at your earliest convenience. During your consultation, we can begin to figure out a longterm solution to your needs. Once you’ve done that, consider taking an over-the-counter pain medication like ibuprofen. Be mindful of any stress you are holding within your facial muscles and attempt to keep your jaw relaxed as much as possible.
Avoid chewing gum or eating excessively crunchy foods until your jaw pain has gone away. Before bed, practice stress management techniques like breathing routines or meditation to help decrease the likelihood of you clenching your jaw together in your sleep.
Holding a cold compress to your jawbone can also help with pain management. It will also help reduce any inflammation surrounding your joints.
Are there any long-term complications of untreated TMJ disorders?
If you fail to properly treat your TMJ disorder, it can lead to chronic pain, joint damage, and difficulty in opening and closing your mouth. Constantly living with persistent pain and limitations with your jaw will also lower your quality of life. It is necessary to seek proper care if you suspect that you have a TMJ disorder.
Can stress make my TMJ disorder worse?
Yes, can trigger a TMJ disorder and make your symptoms worse. An increase in stress can lead to jaw clenching and grinding of the teeth, muscles tension, and much more symptoms. Managing your stress is highly advised if you suffer from a TMJ disorder.
What can I do at home to help with my TMJ symptoms?
The best thing you can do for your TMJ disorder is practice self-care. Also, if your symptoms persist, contact us as soon as possible to adjust your treatment. We recommend doing the following at home to help manage your TMJ disorder:
- Reduce stress by using relaxation techniques
- Avoid hard-to-chew, tough, or chewy foods
- Apply ice or warm compresses to the jaw area
- Do jaw stretches
- Maintain good posture
- Massage the jaw muscles
Schedule Your Appointment for TMJ Therapy in Chapel Hill, NC
Dr. James Furgurson offers TMJ therapy in Chapel Hill, NC for patients who need relief from their TMJ symptoms and jaw pain. Please call 919.736.6175 to book and appointment or request an appointment online by filling out the form.