For folks that have… well, teeth grinding is kind of an in-between issue because we always want to look at the cause of teeth grinding, and I think the literature today says that a lot of the teeth grinding is related to airway issues at night while people sleep, so we always will assess everybody for airway issues, and then if they have teeth grinding issues and whatnot, then we find appropriate care for that. Teeth grinding may lead to symptoms other than just worn teeth.
It may lead to jaw pain, or jaw clicking, or headaches, or things like that, which that may be a sign that somebody has—well, we consider TMJ, or temporomandibular dysfunction and in that case, then we have to do a thorough diagnosis of the head and neck muscles and other muscles, the jaw, how the teeth fit together, and we do use some tools or technology to diagnose that and in which case then, various types of appliances are used. There are orthopedic devices to kind of straighten the jaw, calm the muscles down, and bring comfort. And then lastly, there may be some restorations that need to be done, or braces, or something to realign the teeth to fit better.
What do you do after you hurt your jaw and the pain won’t go away? What can you do to get rid of chronic facial pain or headaches? A prosthodontist like Dr. Wilhelm may be able to answer these questions and give you the TMJ treatment you need to stop the pain for good. His advanced training as a prosthodontist gives Dr. Wilhelm a deeper understanding of how all of the parts of your jaw work together to create a functioning smile.
What is TMJ?
TMJ refers to the temporomandibular joint. This is the joint that connects your jaw to the rest of your skull. This joint and its muscles extend all the way up into the temple region on the side of your head. That is one reason why your temple moves when you chew, talk, or grind your teeth. When you hear people talking about having TMJ, they are actually talking about TMJ disorders, or TMD. This is when you develop an issue with the joint, and the symptoms of that disorder can range from just bothersome to painful.
What causes TMJ?
This is the million-dollar question. Modern dentistry doesn’t know for certain what causes TMJ. We know what contributes to people developing a TMJ disorder, but we have not found a causal link to any one thing. The contributing factors that we know of include:
Injury or Trauma to the Joint – If you have been hit in the jaw or had a recent trauma to the area, you could begin to develop TMJ symptoms. If you do, you need to get in to see Dr. Wilhelm as soon as you can before the symptoms get worse.
Grinding Your Teeth – This puts a tremendous amount of pressure on the joint itself. The TMJ is a tough joint and is built to take the strain of almost constant use during the day. But grinding your teeth is not a natural action for the TMJ and is therefore something it was not designed to withstand.
Movement of the Disc Within the Socket – The TMJ is a ball-and-socket joint. Between the ball and socket is a disc that acts like a cushion. If this disc moves or gets out of place at all, you may experience terrible bone-on-bone pain that leads to TMD.
What are the symptoms of a TMJ disorder?
- Pain – The most recognizable symptom is discomfort or pain in or near your jaw, including your ears. Don’t wait if you feel pain in your TMJ. Call Dr. Wilhelm and get the care you need.
- Swelling – A problem in the joint may also cause swelling in the area. This swelling will be visibly noticeable, meaning you can’t simply ignore the issue.
- Clicking in Your Jaw – As you move your mouth, you may feel a clicking from inside the joint. Popping and other noises can indicate TMD as well.
- Locking Jaw (open/closed) – A very scary TMD symptom is lockjaw. This can happen in either the open or closed position and can be unnerving. Keep calm and call Dr. Wilhelm for help as soon as possible.
Why do TMJ disorders cause migraines?
The TMJ and associated muscles extend all the way into the temple region of your head. Any problem with the TMJ can result in headaches that range from mild to severe. A TMJ disorder can even cause you to experience migraines.
How can Dr. Wilhelm help me?
Mouthguards are one effective way Dr. Wilhelm can help you alleviate the pressure and strain on the joint. Taking the pressure off the joint gives it a chance to repair the damage and return to a healthy state. He also offers occlusal (bite) rehabilitation to help rebuild your smile from chronic bruxism. Dr. Wilhelm is doing tremendous amounts of continuing education to find the newest and most effective ways to treat TMJ disorders.