TMJ and Bruxism in Houston

Frequent headaches, chronic neck and shoulder pain, or clicking and popping in your jaw are all signs that your jaw joint may not be functioning correctly and you might have a temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder. TMJ disorders (referred to as TMD) can also cause other chronic conditions, including ringing in the ears and dizziness.

Some people who suffer from TMJ problems may experience a combination of symptoms that can become quite debilitating and significantly affect the quality of their lives. The good news is that you don’t have to live with the discomfort of these chronic symptoms. Getting an accurate TMD diagnosis at GB Dental in Houston means that we can provide treatment that will end your pain for good and help you reclaim your healthy life.

What is the difference between TMJ and TMD?

You'll find the terms TMJ and TMD often used interchangeably; however, they refer to different things. TMJ is the abbreviation for your temporomandibular joint, or jaw joint. TMD stands for temporomandibular disorder, which refers to the painful joint dysfunction that occurs when the jaw joint is not working correctly.

What is TMD?

TMD is often a group of related problems that occur in the temporomandibular joint and the surrounding muscles and tendons. The TMJ connects the upper jaw (temporal bone) to the lower jaw (mandible).

The TMJ enables you to open and close our mouth, and it is the most complex joint system in the body because it also moves the jaw from side to side. If this joint becomes inflamed, you will likely experience pain. It can also prevent you from opening and closing your mouth all the way. Chewing can also become painful if you suffer from TMD.

If your upper and lower jaw aren't meeting evenly on both sides when you bite down, you may experience problems with your TMJ. People who grind or clench their teeth—a condition known as bruxism—are also prone to TMD.

What are some of the signs of TMD?

Because TMD can cause different types of discomfort with each patient who suffers from it, symptoms can vary but often include:

  • Pain or difficulty chewing, speaking, or yawning because the TMJ is “stuck.”
  • A clicking sound at the TMJ when opening and closing the mouth
  • Chronic headaches, migraines, or neck and shoulder pain
  • Pain or ringing in the ears
  • Worn or shortened teeth from teeth grinding or clenching
  • Teeth that don’t come together when biting down, or malocclusion

You may find yourself struggling with one or even a combination of these symptoms. To best manage your TMD, the important thing is to determine the root cause of your disorder, which is unique to each patient. Houston dentist, Dr. Girish Bharwani has helped hundreds of patients successfully manage and even eliminate TMD pain.

Patients who grind or clench their teeth tend to do it at night while they sleep, making it difficult to diagnose. Often, your bed partner may hear you clenching and grinding your teeth at night and can help make you aware of it.

Grinding or clenching causes excessive wear, fractures, and other damage to your teeth. Bite misalignment can also occur when your teeth become broken or worn.

When your bite does not line up correctly, it puts undue stress on your jaw joint, which is compensating so you can chew and eat your food. All of this results in TMD, which can be very painful and debilitating for some patients.

Is there anything I can do at home to relieve TMD?

There are some measures you can take on your own to try and relieve your TMD. Muscle relaxation achieved through jaw exercises or massage can help achy TMJ muscles feel relaxed. Doing yoga and stretching can also help relieve stress and allow your jaw to relax.

Sometimes, eating a soft diet for a while can help relieve some stress on your jaw joint. You can also alternate with hot and cold temperatures to help your TMJ joint relax. A physical therapist may also be able to provide suggestions for relaxing jaw exercises.

Some things to avoid when you suffer from TMD are gum chewing and clenching and grinding your teeth, if possible.

How can TMD be treated?

Conditions of TMD involve many different symptoms, often making the disorders difficult to diagnose. At our Houston dental office, Dr. Bharwani will spend time discussing your health history with you. He then performs an exam to determine the root cause of the pain before deciding a course of treatment. Proper diagnosis is crucial for patients to experience a significant reduction in pain.

Treatment for TMD is as unique as each patient who is suffering from it. We can treat TMD in numerous ways, often including a bite adjustment, a mouthguard, or a combination of both. The bite adjustment can mean less stress on your jaw because your upper and lower teeth are meeting and working together correctly. A mouth guard worn while you sleep can also be helpful for those who suffer from clenching and grinding (bruxism). The device is designed to reposition the jaw and help sore muscles relax.

If your TMJ dentist in Houston finds that a misaligned bite causes your jaw pain, he may recommend orthodontic treatment. Straightening your teeth not only aligns your bite and relieves your jaw joint, but it also makes brushing and flossing easier. Clean teeth and healthy gums protects you against cavities and gum disease.

Most of the time, patients are surprised at how easily we can eliminate chronic pain with simple treatment modalities that are both inexpensive and easy to follow. Dr. Bharwani is a firm believer in educating patients on the importance of consistency in following treatment recommendation so they can successfully keep the discomfort caused by TMD under control. We work closely with our patients to help them regain the quality of life that we believe everyone deserves.

Does dental insurance cover the treatment for TMD?

Many dental insurance plans do provide coverage for TMD treatment. Some may help with coverage for a mouth guard if your Houston dentist determines that's the best treatment for you. If we recommend orthodontic treatment for you, many dental insurance plans offer benefits that can help reduce the cost of your treatment.

Our financial coordinator will work with you to determine if your insurance covers TMD treatment so you can enjoy relief from your condition without breaking the bank.

We also work with third-party financing companies like CareCredit if you're interested in utilizing convenient monthly payments for your treatment.

Call GB Dental if You Are Experiencing Chronic Jaw, Head, and Neck Pain

You don’t have to live with chronic pain from TMJ disorders. Call Dr. Bharwani today so he can perform an assessment and make an accurate diagnosis.

We look forward to seeing you and helping you find the relief you deserve!