TMJ Therapy – Newbury Park, CA
Put a Stop to Jaw Pain
Do you know anything about the important triangular-shaped joints located on either side of your head just in front of your ears? Made of cartilage and muscle, these temporomandibular joints, TMJs, should move smoothly whenever you need to eat or speak. When working properly and in good condition, they join your mandibular jaw and the temporal bone (your skull), which allows you to close and open your mouth with ease. However, there are a number of factors that can interfere with the proper function of this joint. Namely, extreme stress or a malocclusion—an improper bite— can cause the temporomandibular joints to be dysfunctional, thus exposing nerve endings that send pain signals to your brain. We can help with TMJ therapy in Newbury Park, CA.
Why Choose Paraiso Family Dental & Orthodontics for TMJ/TMD Therapy?
- Spa-Like Dental Environment
- Custom-Made Occlusal Splints
What is TMJ/TMD?
While some people use TMJ and TMD interchangeably, they’re actually two different terms. The TMJ is the temporomandibular joint that allows the lower jaw to move. TMD is short for “TMJ disorder” and refers to any problem with the TMJ. There are many different causes for the condition. For example, some TMDs are caused by an injury while others are the eventual result of habitual clenching and grinding. They can cause chronic pain in your jaw and other areas, and in extreme cases they may even stop you from moving your jaw properly.
Oral-Facial & TMD Pain
TMD is characterized by jaw discomfort and soreness. It’s also linked to headaches, facial pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and even back pain. The chronic pain caused by TMD is linked to a decreased quality of life as well as depression, so don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just live with it. If you suspect your pain might have something to do with a TMD, you need to let us know immediately so that we can find a solution.
Equilibration / Occlusal Adjustments
If your TMD is caused by a misaligned bite, we can make adjustments to your teeth so that they come together evenly in all areas of your mouth. A tiny dental drill is used to remove a very small amount of enamel from the teeth in question, allowing them to come together the way they are meant to. You’ll see an improvement in your symptoms as your jaw recovers from the extra pressure that it was suffering from before the treatment.
An occlusal splint is a removable dental appliance used to treat TMD. Each splint is custom-made based on models of your mouth. When you wear your splint, it will guide your jaw as it moves from side to side and front to back, and it will move it forward slightly into a more comfortable resting position. Wearing your occlusal splint on a regular basis will eventually train your jaw to find this new position on its own, taking the pressure off the TMJ.
Managing Stress to Help Your Jaw Rest
The temporomandibular joint is not only susceptible to psychological and emotional stress but physical stress on the body can also be expressed in your jaw. Yes, the temporomandibular joint is primarily influenced by the structure of your bite and the workings of the muscles in your jaw. However, just a little bit more stress than you are accustomed to, a bit less sleep each night, added to a change in your bite, and the whole system might be thrown out of balance. The resulting TMJ dysfunction, or TMD as it is most commonly referred to, can create a variety of symptoms, including:
- A clicking or popping sound when you open or close your jaw
- Pain in jaw
- A feeling of stiffness in jaw, or the sense that it is locked
- The feeling of an earache, but no sign of infection
- Swelling on the side of the face where you have pain
- Sensitive teeth, but no indication of decay or cavities
Unfortunately, because we live in a stressful society, TMD is not an uncommon condition. Therefore, at Paraiso Family, Dental, and Orthodontics, Dr. Gary Chaffee and his staff take the time at each one of your regular dental cleanings and exams to check for signs of TMJ dysfunction. If we find a problem, then we will work with you to reverse the effects of the condition, shield your teeth from damage if any has been sustained, and alleviate the underlying malocclusion if one is present.
Custom-Fitted Oral Appliances
At Paraiso Family Dental and Orthodontics, TMJ therapy in Newbury Park may involve prescribing a custom-fitted oral bite appliance that you can wear at night. This bite guard not only protects your teeth from possible teeth grinding—a common occurrence among people with TMD—but it will also help to realign your bite. Dr. Chaffee may also suggest a number of ways to reduce stress, including meditation or yoga classes. In addition, we also recommend certain steps you can take daily to help relieve the pain and discomfort of TMJ:
- Don’t chew gum, hard candy or sticky foods
- Take small bites of food when you eat
- Chew on both sides of your mouth
- Eat a well-balanced diet to help the TMJ heal more speedily
- Maintain good posture
- Massage the jaw and temple to stimulate blood flow to the area, which can help relieve pain
- Alternate hot and cold compresses for 20 minutes on the side of your face
- Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen for discomfort