As a TMJ dentist in Fort Worth, we specialize in treating patients that are suffering from jaw pain, headaches and neck pain caused by the temporomandibular joint. This condition is fairly common and the symptoms range from minor headaches and a sore jaw to being so severe that people can’t eat like normal and have issues with speaking and even opening their jaw all of the way. The symptoms typically increase over time so that people don’t start out feeling immediate severe discomfort but rather a gradual buildup. As such, we recommend that if you feel any jaw pain or unexplained headaches, you visit our office for an examination.
If we identify signs of TMJ, we can treat it using a non-invasive solution called a removable oral appliance. While some physicians may recommend surgical intervention, we view this as being unnecessary the majority of the time and always recommend exhausting all non-invasive solutions prior to trying something so drastic. To get started, we will make an impression of your mouth that is used to create the oral appliance in a dental lab. When ready, you will receive what looks like a connected, full retainer to be worn at night. The appliance will prevent your upper and lower teeth from touching, eliminating the risk of them grinding or clenching at night. We find that grinding and clenching are two common triggers for TMJ, so most of our patients report feeling better right away once they start wearing the device. It is small and comfortable, making it an ideal treatment to start with.
As a TMJ dentist in Fort Worth, we have found that our patients report an increase in their symptoms during times of high stress. However, medical science has been at a loss for understanding what all of the triggers of TMJ are, and a study titled OPPERA, has been conducted to find the answers. Started in 2006 by Dr. Gary Slade and Dr. William Maixner, the study has followed 2,737 healthy women and men with no signs of TMJ at the start of the study. They followed up with participants an average of 2.8 years later and found that four percent of them had initial symptoms of TMJ ever year. This indicates how large of a portion of society may suffer from this condition, considering that this group was otherwise healthy and between the ages of 18 and 44 when the study began. One popular thought is that the risk of the condition only increases with age.
The study is still ongoing, attempting to identify all of the potential triggers for TMJ. As a TMJ dentist in Fort Worth, one thing that we found interesting is that those with heightened somatic awareness were at an increased risk of getting TMJ. This confirms the observation we have made that stress can trigger TMJ, but it also demonstrates how this group could be more susceptible to the condition. For example, those that may not feel particularly stressed but are more sensitive to environmental factors like hot or cold, or internal discomfort like a headache, are more likely to need treatment for TMJ. Regardless of why you are experiencing jaw pain, we can examine you and determine if an oral appliance may provide you with relief.