Tmj & Nightguards
"I Have TMJ"
This is what most people say when they have any jaw joint pain, clicking or locking of the jaw or any similar problems.
What is "TMJ"?
TMJ stands for "Temporo-Mandibular Joint". We all have two TMJ joints. They are located close to each ear and are the joints allowing our lower jaw to move up and down and sideways. They help with chewing, speaking, yawning and any time we move our lower jaw. Their functioning is closely related to the muscles of mastication (jaw muscles, aiding in the above activities).
There are a number of disorders of the TMJ, some of which can be chronic or painful, but most of them are complex and diagnosis and treatment can be challenging.
Sometimes TMJ disorders can occur in combination with problems in the muscles of mastication and pain can come from either TMJ or muscles, or in combination.
One major contributing factor in painful TMJ joint or muscles are long term habits such as grinding or clenching of the teeth, or "bruxism". A lot of us clench or grind our teeth as a subconscious way of coping with stress. Such habits can occur at night while sleeping, but also, most of the time without even noticing it, during the day. Grinding and clenching puts an enormous burden on our TMJ and muscles of mastication, and after a while, those structures become overworked and start hurting.
TMJ-related disorders can present in different forms, from a simple tiredness of your cheek muscles upon waking up in the morning or through the day or after chewing a chewy food to a headache, earache, pain on chewing , opening your mouth or speaking, or to more severe inability of opening wide or jaw locked in the open or closed position. Even roots exposure and tooth sensitivity can be indications of bruxism.
It is important to recognize and diagnose these problems and to provide early treatment, before severe symptoms occur. We routinely see TMJ disorders cases and we are able to help a lot of patients here, at our Centrepointe office.
A nightguard is a dental appliance that protects the TMJ, the muscles of mastication and the teeth from the destructive effects of nighttime bruxisrn (clenching or grinding)
Long term bruxisrn can cause headaches, TMJ and muscle pain, severe teeth wear, tooth sensitivity, breakage and even tooth loss. A nightguard is a custom made plastic appliance that is worn every night during sleep to protect the joints, muscles and teeth from the effects of bruxism.
In order to fabricate a nightguard, we will take molds of your teeth which will be sent to the dental laboratory which will fabricate the appliance. In a subsequent appointment, the dentist will ensure proper fitting of the appliance in the mouth and give you the instructions for wear and care of your nightguard.
Wearing a nightguard every night long term can reduce or eliminate certain headaches, joint pain, teeth wear and sensitivity.
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