sore-jawMany people complain of jaw and facial pain. This pain may be caused by your sinuses, a toothache, or temporomandibular disorder (TMD). TMD can affect the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) which is a hinge that connects your jaw to your skull. It is located in the front of each ear and gives you the ability to chew, talk, yawn, and move your jaw up and down. Many people also complain of their partner’s snorting, or are concerned about their child’s jaw development. At Beyond Smiles Dental we have treatments and answers for these common concerns.

Symptoms of TMD

TMD is sometimes mistakenly called TMJ. TMJ refers to the joint, while TMD refers to the disorder. Pain may be caused by the jaw twisting during closing and side motions as well as when you open your mouth. TMD affects women in child bearing years twice as often as men of the same age, but TMD can affect people of all ages from very small children to senior adults. Symptoms may include:

  • Pain around or in the ear
  • Neck aches and headaches
  • Tenderness of jaw muscles or jaw
  • More severe pain or tenderness in the jaw in the morning or late afternoon
  • Pain when biting, chewing, or yawning
  • Difficulty closing and opening the mouth
  • Sensitive teeth with no underlying dental issues

Treatment of TMD

You may find relief through rest and over the counter medications as well as application of ice to the jaw. But sometimes these at home remedies do not bring relief. This is when a trip to our office is in order. The doctor can treat TMD with functional appliances. These appliances are fitting into the mouth and help to move the jaw into the proper position to help relieve the pain of TMD. There are several styles of functional dental appliances. The doctor will take x-rays and digital images of your teeth and jaw, as well as examine you and talk to you about your symptoms. With this information she can make the best choice for treatment based on your case.

Functional Appliances

Functional appliances are used for treating TMD and are also very effective in treating children’s overbite, narrow arches, underdeveloped bite, thumb sucking, crowded teeth, and jaw joint problems. The best age to use a functional appliance is between the ages of 8 and 11 since children between these ages are the most willing to accept the appliance, but even young children can benefit from the use of an appliance. Functional appliances are much less costly and are worn for a shorter time than braces. Functional appliances help to correct jaw and arch problems while your child’s jaw and mouth are developing. By using them during their developmental stages the jaw and arches can be restructured to give your child a health mouth and prevent TMD, an over and under bite, and sleep problems.

If your child has a severe overbite or underdeveloped bite, a functional appliance can help give them a new smile and boost their confidence. Narrow arches are the main cause of the overcrowding of teeth. With the use of a functional appliance your doctor can help correct narrow arches and give your child’s permanent teeth room to come in naturally and without problems. A narrow jaw may also not be large enough to accommodate your child’s tongue. This can cause speech problems. A functional appliance can help open up narrow arches and help your child’s speech develop normally.

Night Guards and Sleep Disorders

Another serious condition which is caused by a narrow airway and enlarged tonsils is sleep apnea. Sleep apnea is a dangerous condition in which a person stops breathing many times during the night. This lack of proper sleep can lead to fatigue, sleepiness during the day, and lead to very serious health problems. A night guard worn while sleeping can help treat sleep apnea and other sleep disorders. If your child breathes through their mouth and snores, they may have problems sleeping which a mouth guard can help relieve. Beyond Smiles Dental can also fit adults with a night guard to help them get a good night’s sleep. Sleep apnea is a common disorder and affects all ages. If left untreated it may cause heart disease, stroke, and even death.

Contact or call Beyond Smiles Dental in Fort Worth, Texas and ask about our TMD treatment and night guards. We treat children and adults, and can treat and relive the pain of TMD, help you have a better smile, and a good night’s sleep.