Stop Living With Jaw Pain!
September 07, 2017
Submitted By Beth Hamann, Koala Center for Sleep Disorders
When Mary first came to a Koala Center for Sleep Disorders, she was in a great deal of pain. After having suffered from hearing loss, tinnitus, headaches, and neck pain for some time, Mary was looking for answers. She found herself at Koala, which specializes not only in sleep disorders but also in neuromuscular dentistry.
Mary was diagnosed with a Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD), sometimes referred to as simply “TMJ.” It is a disorder that, according to the TMJ Association, affects around 35 million people in the United States. While the disorder can impact both men and women, the majority of those seeking treatment are women in their twenties and thirties. The National Institutes of Health note that patients often complain of headaches, jaw pain, popping or clicking, and ear problems such as pain or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). They may also experience limited jaw movement and have trouble opening their mouths widely without pain.
Many may initially believe stress or a busy lifestyle is to blame for these symptoms. In fact, TMD often goes undiagnosed for some time because it can have such a wide range of effects on the body. Patients like Mary often report problems with the ear and may even see a primary care physician for an earache. However, when no infection is found, doctors will likely expect problems with the jaw muscles and joint (TMJ). Because the jaw is so close to the ears, it can refer pain to the ear area and can feel similar to an ear infection. Furthermore, your bite can be a factor in many types of pain or functional problems because of the inter-relationship of the overall muscular and skeletal systems. TMD often causes pain around the jaw joint and even across the face, down the neck and shoulders.
The onset of TMD symptoms may occur following an infection, injury to the jaw area, or following dental or orthodontic procedures. However, sometimes symptoms come on suddenly for no apparent reason. Whatever the cause, the symptoms are often frustrating and debilitating. For Mary, even chewing and swallowing became difficult and uncomfortable.
Fortunately, there is help for those suffering from TMD. The TMJ Association recommends self-care practices like eating softer foods, applying heat or ice to the affected area, and avoiding “extreme jaw movements.” If self-care methods do not provide relief, consider finding a physician or dentist familiar with TMD.
Since Mary started treatment several months ago, she is feeling 90 percent better and is no longer complaining of ear problems. With the techniques of neuromuscular dentistry, you too can achieve a healthier bite, more comfortable jaw, and a beautiful smile.
Dentists at the Koala Center for Sleep Disorders can evaluate the patient’s history and conduct a clinical examination to diagnose TMD. Additionally, diagnosis and treatment uses advanced technologies such as Cone Beam Volumetric Tomography, K-7 Electromyography and TENS (Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation). With TENS, electrodes are applied to the patient’s jaw, neck, and shoulder areas. TENS sends a painless electrical current that increases blood flow to the joint, relieves stiffness, improves mobility, and acts as a drug-free pain reliever. By using TENS, your doctor is able to find the optimum true rest position for the jaw. A custom-made appliance called a neuromuscular orthotic is created to promote healing and maintain the new, corrected bite position.
For more information on neuromuscular orthotics to treat TMJ Disorders or Oral Appliance Therapy for Snoring and Sleep Apnea, please contact Dr. Beth Hamann at Koala Center for Sleep Disorders. Call 602-357-9845 or visit KoalaAZ.com to schedule an appointment today.
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