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Medical Mystery: Why Should I Call My Dentist About Jaw Pain?

December 12, 2023

Filed under: Uncategorized — drchenet @ 5:52 pm

3D x-ray illustration of a skull with the TMJ glowing orangeHave you been experiencing persistent headaches, pressure behind your eyes, or an aching jaw? If so, you could be suffering from a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder and need to see a professional to get help. It’d be easy to assume that you should reach out to your doctor first since this problem isn’t tooth-specific, but you would probably be better off calling your dentist. If you’re curious as to why, keep reading to learn more about how your dentist treats TMJ!

What is a TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint is where your jawbone connects with your skull like a sliding hinge on both sides of your head below your ear.  Under normal circumstances, it allows you to open and close your mouth or move your jaw side-to-side. This full range of motion is necessary for basic tasks like speaking or chewing food. Sometimes, the nerves in the muscles around these joints become irritated resulting in painful swelling and inflammation. This can limit the range of motion in your mouth and cause other symptoms like:

  • Throbbing around the ears and jaw, especially when eating.
  • Pressure behind your face and eyes.
  • Headaches and migraines.
  • Ear ringing.
  • Stiff or locked jaw when trying to open or close your mouth.

Why Should I Call My Dentist About a TMJ Disorder?

Though we tend to think of dentists as tooth experts, the truth is that they’re trained to resolve many different related concerns like gum disease, bite misalignments, oral cancer, and TMJ disorders. TMJ often occurs when patients subconsciously grind their teeth in a condition known as bruxism, or when there’s a pronounced over or underbite. Your dentist has the specialized education, experience, and instruments necessary to handle such issues. You can try your doctor first, but there’s a good chance they’ll refer you back to your dentist, anyway.

How Can My Dentist Treat MY TMJ Disorder?

To restore your jawbone’s functionality, the inflamed tissues need to take a break so they have time to heal. Treatments focus on reducing the impact of your symptoms while stabilizing your jaw and often include:

  • Taking over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen or Tylenol to address any throbbing.
  • Prescription drugs like muscle relaxants or antidepressants.
  • Physical therapy or specific stretches.
  • Oral splint or mouth guard to prevent bruxism.
  • Lifestyle changes like avoiding chewing gum or eating softer foods.
  • An arthroscopy, which is a surgical procedure that allows them to see inside of and repair your joint.

As you can see, there are many ways your dentist can help you recover from a TMJ disorder. They’re uniquely qualified to address the underlying cause so you can get back to life as usual!

About the Practice

At Dental Excellence Melbourne, patients of all ages benefit from a father-son dental duo that provides a full range of oral healthcare services, including TMJ therapies. Drs. Cedric and Derek Chenet work together to find solutions tailored to meet your dental needs. With high-tech imaging technology, they can create a customized oral appliance to relieve your symptoms. If you’d like a consultation, you’re welcome to request an appointment on the website or by calling (321) 255-0199.

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