The temporomandibular joints, called TMJ, are the joints and jaw muscles that allow us to open and close our mouths, chew, speak and swallow. They include muscles and ligaments as well as the jaw bones.
Each TMJ has a disc between the ball and socket. The disc alleviates pressure while enabling the jaw to open widely and rotate or glide. Any problem that prevents this complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones from working properly may result in a painful TMJ disorder.
What Causes TMJ pain?
- Tooth and Jaw Alignment
- Stress and Teeth Grinding
How is a TMJ Disorder Diagnosed?
Part of our dental examination includes checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping or difficulty moving. Depending on the diagnosis, we may offer solutions or refer you to a specialist.
How is TMJ Treated?
There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. Dr. Hicks will suggest the most appropriate therapy based on symptoms and cause.
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles
- Medications for anxiety or inflammation
- Fixing an uneven bite
- Orthodontic treatment
- Relaxation techniques
- Lifestyle changes such as avoiding gum chewing
Custom Night Guards Are Made Right in Our Office
Night guards have been shown to decrease the teeth grinding and clenching that may be contributing to your TMJ-related pain and symptoms. Don’t bother with one-size-fits-all mouthguards you can find in the stores. Our custom-fitted guards will be fabricated to the exact intricacies of your teeth and mouth for maximum symptom relief.
Bruxism: Teeth Grinding and Clenching
Are you one of 40 million Americans that grind or clench their teeth?
This condition is known as bruxism, and Hicks Family Dentistry treats it every day.
Bruxism isn’t just limited to adults. Children commonly clench and grind from age three until about ten years of age, although it can persist for a few more years.
Clenching and grinding the teeth are, unfortunately, a natural and common response to stress, anxiety, and even nightmares. Alcohol and caffeine have also been proven to escalate this condition.Sometimes, bruxism is the result of an uneven bite or misalignment of the teeth.
What are the Symptoms of Bruxism?
Excessive grinding or clenching can cause the following symptoms:
- Damage to fillings, crowns, and teeth
- Facial and neck pain
- Sore and painful jaw
- Morning fatigue
- Sleep disorders, such as sleep apnea
- Pain and other symptoms related to the jaw, such as TMJ disorder
How is Bruxism Diagnosed?
Dr. Hicks will perform a thorough examination to check for excessive wear and damage to your teeth, as well as for soreness in your jaw. Digital X-rays may also be taken to receive a clear and accurate picture of your jaw and tooth placement.
How is Bruxism Treated?
Bruxism is often resolved through the use of a night guard that is custom-made right here in our office. This specially made mouthguard will break the grinding and clenching habit. Bite adjustments may also be necessary as your teeth grow and adjust. Additional corrective measures, like clear teeth-aligners, might be recommended for severe cases.
Sleep apnea must be diagnosed by a medical doctor. If you snore, have irregular breathing or gasping a night, and wake feeling sluggish and tired, you could have sleep apnea. The primary treatment for this condition is a CPAP machine which consists of a mask worn over your face that keeps air flowing into your lungs through the night.
Many people find the CPAP extremely uncomfortable. Fortunately, Hicks Family Dentistry has a non-bulky alternative in the form of a retainer. This small, acrylic device slips over your upper and lower teeth. It readjusts your jaw and tongue to allow air to flow more smoothly in and out of your lungs.
This device is easy to place, remove, pack for travel, and clean. More than 90% of our patients who use it have found success. We’ll be happy to consult with you about this comfortable and functional alternative to a CPAP.