May 31, 2019
Jaw pain often goes unreported; you may be tempted to write it off as a simple inconvenience. But if the pain can be treated, do you really need to live with it? The fact is that, while there can be multiple causes for a sore jaw, oftentimes it boils down to problems in a particular joint – and treating that joint can be the key to relief. Here’s what you need to know before asking whether you need TMJ therapy in Las Vegas.
What is a TMJ Disorder?
TMJ is shorthand for temporomandibular joint, which is located just in front of the ear on either side of your head. It’s what connects your jaw to the rest of the skull and allows it to move. When there’s a problem with the alignment or function of this joint, it can be very painful.
What Can Cause TMJ Disorders?
There are many ways for a TMJ disorder to occur. Grinding your teeth, for example, can put a lot of stress on your jaw. It may also be the result of an injury, or it could be a symptom of arthritis. Posture can be a factor as well; holding your head slightly forward while at rest can strain many of the muscles in your head, face, and neck.
Note that while anyone can develop a TMJ disorder, women tend to be at greater risk than men, though fortunately treatment is equally effective regardless of gender.
How Do I Know If I Have a TMJ Disorder?
Chronic jaw pain can often be a direct sign of a TMJ disorder. If it hurts to chew, speak, or open wide, it’s often a sign of a problem with the joint. Other symptoms may include:
- A clicking or popping jaw
- Jaw locking into place or having trouble opening.
- Pain in the ear, neck or shoulder
- Tired face muscles
- Ringing ears
What Should I Do If I Have a TMJ Disorder?
You can ease the pain with a hot water bottle or an ice pack at home; deep, slow breaths and eating soft foods can also help by letting your jaw rest. If you want a permanent solution, however, you’ll likely need professional treatment.
Remember that since the disorder has multiple causes, professional treatment is going to vary. In many cases, oral appliances that can protect the teeth or adjust the jaw to a better resting position are used. Speak with a dentist who has advanced TMJ training and can give you an accurate diagnosis; effective therapy designed by an expert can make all the difference.
About the Author
Dr. Pamela West treats patients with sleep apnea and TMJ disorders with a variety of oral appliances and other modalities. She works with medical experts from across Nevada and is currently a member of the American Academy of Dental Sleep Medicine. To set up a TMJ appointment at her practice, iSleep Solutions, visit her website or call (702) 602-2000.
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