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Most people are unaware of their temporo-mandibular joint, or TMJ, until they begin experiencing TMJ pain. The joint, located in front of each ear, allows you to open and close your mouth and to move your jaw from side to side. In the case of TMJ disorder, movements used to chew, speak, and yawn can become very painful.

The good news is that there are several options available to treat TMJ pain. Though surgery is one treatment option, there are several non-surgical treatments available in our office. Using a variety of treatments, we help our patients experience much-needed relief from the pain caused by TMJ disorders.

Understanding TMJ Pain

There are a number of factors that may cause a TMJ disorder. However, TMJ pain most frequently occurs due to displacement of the articular disc. Other possible causes of TMJ disorder include:

  • Changes in your bite
  • Arthritis
  • Trauma (an accident or teeth grinding)
  • Stress (your TMJ is very sensitive to not only physical stress, but also emotional/psychological stress)

A TMJ disorder can manifest itself in many different ways. Symptoms of a TMJ disorder may include:

  • Pain in the jaw, ear, neck, shoulder, and/or temple
  • Pain while chewing
  • Chronic headaches
  • Jaw clicking/popping
  • Jaw “locking up,” difficulty opening or closing the mouth

Treating TMJ Pain

Visiting a dentist is the first step toward treating a TMJ disorder and getting relief from TMJ pain. We are able to give patients much-needed pain relief using effective treatments outside of invasive surgery.

  • For TMJ pain caused by disc displacement, we will recommend ways to rest the joint and allow time for the area to heal.
  • If your pain is caused by a misalignment, we can fit you for an appliance to correct your bite and alleviate your discomfort. Use of an appliance can relieve the pressure placed on the joint and significantly reduce or completely eliminate TMJ pain.
  • If the pain is due to trauma, we can recommend at-home treatments to reduce and manage pain as the joint or surrounding muscles heal.
  • For pain caused by stress, we can help you find ways to reduce your stress and treat your symptoms.

Caring for Your TMJ Disorder

In addition to the treatments we provide, there are some tips we give our patients to keep them feeling as comfortable as possible. If you suffer from TMJ pain, we recommend the following:

  • Avoid foods that are chewy or very hard, such as hard candies, and take smaller bites. If you are experiencing TMJ pain, you need to “baby” your jaw.
  • Be sure to avoid chewing on only one side of your mouth; alternate which side you use to chew to prevent placing uneven pressure on your jaw.
  • Avoid stress as much as possible, as stress can worsen TMJ symptoms.
  • Anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, can provide pain relief.

As anyone who has suffered from a TMJ disorder knows, the pain can be debilitating. Fortunately, there are several treatment options available without having to undergo surgery.

If you are experiencing jaw pain or other TMJ-like symptoms, contact The Houston Dentists. We help patients experience much-needed relief from TMJ disorders.