Your jaw joints absorb an enormous amount of force each day. Eating chewy or crunchy foods, clenching and grinding, and even normal day-to-day use can really take a toll on the health and function of your jaw joints. This can create serious consequences because you use your jaw constantly each day for eating, speaking, yawning, and smiling.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, which is often shortened to TMJ or TMD, is a condition that causes pain, discomfort, and dysfunction in your jaw joints. Instances of TMD are common, and many patients experience some or all of the symptoms associated with it.
These symptoms often become worse when a patient has a clenching or grinding habit. In fact, if you feel jaw pain, have headaches, or have tooth sensitivity upon waking, you may be grinding your teeth while you sleep. Teeth grinding, called bruxism, also puts your teeth at risk for fractures, chips, and wear that exposes the softer dentin inside your tooth, making it more susceptible to decay.
Stress, accidents or trauma, drinking alcohol, taking certain drugs or medications, and having arthritis can all negatively affect your jaw joints. Adjusting your lifestyle choices may improve your symptoms, but the underlying condition might still be present. In some cases, the cause of TMD cannot be determined.
TMD might signal that your teeth do not come together correctly or might not come together at all. A misaligned bite can create problems with uneven wear and significant localized tooth sensitivity, which might worsen your condition.
At Alliance Dental, we offer our patients relief from TMD and its accompanying symptoms. Dr. Spaska Malaric is skilled at creating oral appliances that guide your jaw joints into a more comfortable and ideal orthopedic position. In addition, your oral appliance, also known as a splint or night guard, will keep your upper and lower teeth separated, which can reduce cracks, fractures, sensitivity, and unnecessary wear.
In cases of poor occlusion (a bad bite), Dr. Malaric may recommend an occlusal equilibration, a precise procedure that evens out your bite, so your teeth find a comfortable chewing and resting position. Failure to treat TMD can cause painful consequences that could require surgery. You also put your teeth at risk of breaking if you have an untreated clenching or grinding habit. In most cases, early treatment is affordable, non-invasive, and highly successful!
Don't wait to contact our Fort Myers dental office! Dr. Malaric has the skills and experience necessary to effectively diagnose and treat TMD and bruxism. Many patients experience relief quickly and find that their symptoms improve or completely disappear.