Just about everyone who suffers from TMJ disorders has heard, “It’s all in your head.” It’s true! Strain from bite misalignment results in jaw pain, stiffness, and lack of mobility. It may trigger headaches and migraines and earaches. It can cause misalignment of upper and lower jaws, contributing to dental wear. Chronic TMJ disorders also have health effects to go beyond your head, including pain in the neck, shoulders, and back and emotional depression. Dr. Sameet Koppikar is the Phoenix, AZ dentist trusted by many for straight answers and effective treatment of TMJ/TMD.
You have two temporomandibular joints. They are the hinges on either side of the head, near the ears, that attach your lower jaw bone to your skull. A complex collaboration of muscles, nerves, tendons, and discs allow your jaw to move up and down, side to side, and thrust forward. Those are the movements necessary to bite off pieces of food and grind them, speak clearly, and make facial expressions.
When that delicate balance is disrupted, a condition known as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMD occurs, and it has a big impact on your quality of life.
Because symptoms of TMD are so varied and often intermittent, the cause is commonly misdiagnosed by medical doctors or treated inappropriately. They usually mask symptoms with heavy-duty prescription pain relievers. These narcotics may dull your pain, but they also dull your brain, impacting performance at work and home.
If you have any reason to believe you have TMD, a visit to Dr. Koppikar is in order. He approaches TMD in this manner:
- Accurate diagnosis. It begins with a compassionate analysis of your symptoms, and then a thorough examination of your oral health, alignment of your teeth, and your bite.
- Uncovering triggers. The next step is unhurried discussion about your home life, job, habits, and hobbies to discover factors which trigger or worsen your condition.
- Lifestyle adjustments. In some cases, TMD flare-ups may be avoided with simple changes to the things you do every day like giving up chewing gum, sleeping on your back, or getting a shoulder rest for your telephone receiver.
- Physical therapy. Dr. Koppikar may recommend stretching exercises, ultrasound therapy, or warm compresses.
- Stress reduction techniques. Yoga, meditation, physical exercise, and acupuncture can help.
- Bite splint. This is a small plastic mouth guard, worn at night to realign bite and reduce jaw strain from clenching and grinding. It stabilizes the jaw, allowing it to relax.
- Orthodontics. If malocclusion is a contributing factor, Dr. Koppikar with talk with you about braces or Invisalign.
- Drug therapy, if needed. In acute cases, Dr. Koppikar may prescribe muscle relaxants for temporary pain relief, until healthy TMD management techniques begin to show results.
If you have TMD, there are two important things to remember. First, you have options in how you deal with it. Second, you aren’t alone. Dr. Koppikar is your oral health partner. Call Biltmore Dental Center today at (602) 954-8200 for an appointment.