Give It a Rest
In today’s fast-paced society, we may not have the same stressors our ancestors had like finding food and shelter, but new technology and standards of living bring a whole new kind of stress into almost every moment of our daily lives.
We all cope with stress differently and hold our stress in different parts of our body – some people clench their fists, some people have restless legs, but many of us tend to clench and grind our teeth, without even being aware that we’re doing it. Stress is just one of the many factors that can contribute to the chronic pain and dysfunction associated with the jaw joint, or TMJ.
What is TMJ?
TMJ stands for the temporomandibular joint, or the jaw joint. TMD stands for temporomandibular joint dysfunction, or any condition afflicting the jaw joint. To make things confusing, the two terms are often used interchangeably and are sometimes even called TMJD. For simplicity’s sake, we’ll use TMJ to describe the joint and the condition, as it is the most widely used term.
Your TMJ is made up of a complex system that includes nerve receptors, muscles, tendons, and the temporomandibular joint that connects your jaw to your skull. When stress, excessive forces, and imbalances interfere it can cause a whole host of problems and a whole lot of pain.
Signs & Symptoms
Some of the signs and symptoms of TMJ include:
- Chronic headaches & migraines
- Jaw pain & stiffness
- Jaw popping or locking (lockjaw)
- Trouble chewing, speaking or opening/closing the mouth
- Chronic myofascial pain – head, neck, face, jaw, shoulders
- Teeth grinding & clenching (bruxism)
- Toothache with no known dental problem
- Dizziness or ringing in the ears
- Muscle spasms
- Pain or swelling
Women & TMJ
Over 10 million people in the United States suffer from TMJ. As we discussed above, stress is one of the largest contributors to TMJ problems. It’s no wonder, then, that women in their childbearing years account for 90% of TMJ sufferers.
This may have to do with stress, but there are other factors that may contribute to this imbalance:
- Women are more likely to seek medical treatment
- More women suffer from arthritis, a leading cause of TMJ
- Estrogen receptors in the TMJ of women
- Women taking hormonal birth control more likely to report TMJ
- Difference in joint structure
- Magnesium & other vitamin deficiencies in women
Other Common Causes
We’ve already discussed how stress and being female can cause and contribute to TMJ dysfunction, but there are many other common causes that affect women and men (and those who don’t conform to traditional gender binaries) alike.
- Misaligned teeth
- Bite problems
- Missing teeth
- Imbalanced forces
- Traumatic injury
One of the main contributing factors to the pain and symptoms of TMJ involves the teeth grinding and clenching (bruxism) that is putting constant stress on your TMJ. Whether bruxism is the cause or a symptom of your TMJ, the two conditions go hand-in-hand. Thankfully, your Hillcrest dentist has a solution!
Dr. Collins has over 20 years of experience in neuromuscular pain reduction and other pain management therapies. If you suffer from chronic headaches and migraines, teeth grinding and clenching, or TMJ dysfunction, an NTI appliance (custom night guard) can protect your teeth and help prevent the chronic pain that’s getting in the way of your life.
Dr. Collins can assess your condition in a comprehensive consultation, analyze the forces in your mouth, and create a custom NTI mouthguard or night guard just for you. This is a fantastic alternative to traditional TMJ treatments that include prescription drugs and in severe cases, invasive surgery.
Your NTI device will be custom-made for the perfect fit and optimum comfort. Oral appliance therapy is a simple and effective solution that prevents overnight teeth grinding and clenching, allowing the TMJ to rest and heal overnight.
The only time the body is able to truly heal itself is during sleep. Giving your jaw this nightly time to rest and recover can not only treat the source of your pain, but can prevent it from happening in the first place.
Come Smile with Us!
If you have any questions about general dentistry or would like to schedule a consultation with your San Diego dentist, Dr. Timothy Collins at Complete Dental Health, give us a call today or schedule a visit online!
Services We Offer
– Oral Hygiene
– Gum Disease
– Tooth Colored Fillings
– Oral Cancer Screenings
– Mouth Guards
– Full Mouth Reconstruction
– Smile Makeovers
– Teeth Whitening
– Cosmetic Bonding
– Contouring & Shaping
Schedule An Appointment
To request an appointment with us please call us at (619) 295-2202 or click on the button below to provide us with your contact information and preferences for the day and time of your appointment.