If you put your fingers right in front of your earlobes and move your jaw, congratulations: you’ve found your TMJ! This is your jaw joint, which enables you to speak, eat, laugh, and yawn with ease. Unfortunately, this area of the body can sometimes develop problems due to stress or injury, leading to what is called a TMJ disorder, or TMD. This can include symptoms like chronic jaw pain and headaches. Fortunately for our patients, Dr. Geoff Gaunt can find and treat these issues right in our Dothan office. If you’re ready to say “goodbye” to jaw pain and frequent headaches, be sure to give us a call.
What causes TMD in the first place? While there are many factors that can lead to one, the most common tend to be stress, injury, arthritis, and a slight misalignment of the bite. We’ll check on the health of your jaw whenever you come to see us, and if we suspect that you have TMD, we’ll use a variety of scans and X-rays to pinpoint the exact cause of your discomfort. From there, we can recommend the appropriate treatment to quickly eliminate your pain.
A TMD can often be brought on by a slight misalignment of the bite, which causes the jaw and accompanying muscles to make small adjustments whenever you open and close your mouth. This can lead to muscle tension and excess wear on the joint, but fortunately, there is quite a simple fix to this. We’ll simply reshape a few key teeth, removing only a few millimeters of enamel, to help your bite come together properly. This should help the joint and muscles relax, causing the pain to stop.
We can also use something called an occlusal splint to address TMD, which is a custom-made orthopedic mouthpiece a patient would only need to wear to bed. It helps by slightly shifting the jaw into a more relaxed and natural orientation, allowing the muscles and joints to heal. After a while, the jaw will adjust to this new position, and a patient should be able to go throughout their day symptom-free.