Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your jawbone to your skull and work like hinges, so you can chew food, speak, and move your jaw freely in different ways.
When you have pain in this joint, it may be due to an injury or a degenerative disease like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. Many people develop TMJ pain because they grind their teeth at night or persistently clench their teeth throughout the day, a condition known as bruxism.
Many times, TMJ pain is temporary, and you can treat it with over-the-counter medications. However, if your pain persists and you can’t find relief with home care, Dr. Rapal recommends scheduling an evaluation of your jaw and overall dental health.
You should also request an appointment if you have symptoms like:
If you notice your jaw clicks or you feel a grating sensation in the joint when you move your mouth, you need an evaluation of your jaw joints. Dr. Rapal offers digital X-rays in the office to get a close-up look at your joints and determine the best course of treatment.
Initially, treating TMJ pain involves over-the-counter pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. You may also find relief by placing an ice pack over your jaw.
If these treatments aren’t enough to reduce or prevent recurrent jaw pain, you may need a minimally invasive procedure to remove debris from inside the joint.
Dr. Rapal can also customize an oral appliance (mouth guard) that fits snugly over your teeth while you sleep if you grind or clench your teeth. In addition to preventing TMJ pain, the appliance can protect your teeth from wearing down and breaking. Dr. Rapal also offers a dental sleep apnea appliance as another option for TMJ treatment.
You may also need to avoid chewing gum or hard foods to prevent pain. Dr. Rapal can teach you jaw-stretching exercises to improve your jaw function and help you relax the muscles in your face.
If you have persistent jaw pain and can’t treat it on your own, schedule a TMJ pain evaluation online or by calling the office of Kiran Rapal DDS, Inc. today.