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Posts for tag: jaw pain

By Phil Hart, DDS
October 04, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj disorders   jaw pain  

If you have chronic jaw pain, you know how difficult eating, speaking or even smiling can be. Many sufferers will do anything to gain relief, even surgery. But before you go down that road, consider the traditional conservative approach to temporomandibular disorders (TMD) management first—it could provide the most relief with the least risk of side effects.

The temporomandibular joints connect the lower jaw to the skull on either side of the head. These ball and socket joints also contain a cushioning disk to facilitate movement. This disk is believed to be the primary focus for jaw pain problems known collectively as TMD.

Doctors now believe injury, stress, metabolic issues, jaw anatomy defects or similar factors trigger the chain reaction of muscle spasms, pain and soreness that can erupt during a TMD episode. A TMD patient may experience pain within the jaw muscles or joints themselves, clicking sensations, or an inability to open the jaw to its full range.

TMD therapy has traditionally followed an orthopedic path—treating jaw joints like any other joint. In recent years, though, a more aggressive treatment model has emerged that promotes more invasive techniques like orthodontics, dental work or jaw surgery to relieve discomfort. But the track record for this model, especially concerning jaw surgery, remains hazy at best and offers no guarantee of relief. These techniques are also irreversible and have even made symptoms worse in some patients.

It’s usually prudent, then, to try conservative treatments first. This can include pain and muscle relaxant medication, jaw exercises, stretching and massage, and dietary changes to reduce chewing force. Patients with teeth grinding habits may also benefit from a bite guard worn at night to reduce the biting force during sleep and help the joints relax.

By finding the right mix of treatments, you may be able to find significant relief from TMD symptoms with the conservative approach. If not, you might then discuss more invasive options with your dentist. But even if your dentist recommends such a procedure, you would be wise to seek a second opinion.

TMD can definitely interfere with your quality of life and peace of mind. But there are ways to reduce its effects and make for a happier life.

If you would like more information on managing chronic jaw pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Seeking Relief from TMD.”

By Phil Hart, DDS
January 08, 2018
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj   jaw pain  

Many adults suffer from jaw pain. As there are many potential causes of jaw discomfort, correct diagnosis is vital. Your jaw paindentist needs to identify the cause of your pain in order to provide the best course of treatment. Dr. Phillip Hart is one of the finest dentists in Bartlett, TN. He offers state-of-the-art treatments for jaw problems. Read on to learn about the causes of jaw pain.

1. Teeth Grinding

When teeth grinding, also referred to as bruxism, occurs occasionally, it does not usually cause harm, but when it occurs often, the teeth can become damaged and other problems can arise. A sore jaw or a constant headache are signs of bruxism. If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, see your dentist right away. Based on your Bartlett, TN, dentist’s diagnosis, one or more treatments may be recommended. 

2. TMJ Disorder

Temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ) is the most commonly reported cause of jaw pain. TMJ disorder is a condition related to the temporomandibular joint, which is a joint that connects your jaw to your skull. This condition can cause pain in the face, neck, jaw, or head; clicking or popping sounds when closing and opening the mouth, and a jaw that can be stuck in an open or closed position.

3. Gum Disease

Gum disease, or periodontal disease, can result in discomfort in the jaw area. Gum disease is an infection of the structures around the teeth. Symptoms of gum disease may include bad breath, bleeding gums, swollen gums, and gum recession. Treatments for gum disease may include antibiotics, a deep cleaning, or surgical treatments. If left untreated, gum disease will worsen over time.

4. Abscessed Tooth

A tooth abscess is an infection at the root of a tooth or between the gum and a tooth. A tooth abscess is most commonly caused by severe tooth decay. It causes swelling around the tooth, leading to tissue destruction and jaw discomfort. Talk to your dentist if you have a tooth abscess and jaw pain. The infection can spread to your jawbone, causing further complications.

Leave your jaw pain behind. Call our dental office at 901-386-9299 now to schedule an appointment in Bartlett, TN. Get back on track by receiving the best jaw pain treatment available.

By Phil Hart, DDS
July 24, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: jaw pain  

Chronic jaw pain and limited jaw mobility are two common symptoms of a group of conditions known as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD or TMD). Several effective treatments have developed over the years, despite the fact that the underlying causes for TMD remain an elusive quarry for medical researchers.

But we may now have a promising new lead in understanding TMD: a possible link between it and other systemic inflammatory diseases. In recent study researchers interviewed over 1,500 people with TMD about various aspects of their lives. Nearly two-thirds reported at least three or more other inflammatory health conditions like fibromyalgia, chronic headaches or rheumatoid arthritis.

These statistics suggest a relationship between TMD and these other conditions. Further exploration of these possible links could result not only in a greater understanding of TMD but better treatment strategies for it and the other related conditions.

In the meantime, though, what can you do if you're currently dealing with TMD?

As of now the approaches with the best results continue to be conservative, non-invasive techniques we've used for several years. Thermal therapies like hot or cold compresses to the jaw area, for example, are quite effective in providing pain relief, and muscle relaxant drugs have proven beneficial for improving jaw mobility.

More radical approaches like jaw surgery have also come into prominence. But there's a caveat here: a significant number of people find their conditions don't improve or may even worsen. In the study previously mentioned, only 38% of respondents who had undergone jaw surgery saw any range of improvement (from slight to significant); by contrast, 28% indicated no change in symptoms and 46% said they were worse off.

It's important, then, that you thoroughly discuss your condition with your dentist, verifying first that you have TMD.  Together you can develop a treatment plan to relieve pain and restore jaw function. If your dentist or surgeon suggests surgery, consider seeking a second opinion before choosing this more radical approach.

Hopefully, further research into the causes and relationships of TMD with other health conditions will yield still better treatments. In the meantime, you may still find relief and improve your quality of life with the proven techniques available now.

If you would like more information on treatments for chronic jaw pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”