Do you suffer from a TMJ disorder? TMJ symptoms, which cause issues with the muscles and ligaments you use to move your mouth and is the delicate joint connection of your lower jaw to the skull can vary from mild ache in the joint to long term, severe symptoms that can include muscle spasms of the cheeks or eyes, aching, popping of the joint, neck twitching, facial swelling or even a “locked” jaw.
In our fast paced and often stressed world, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports more than 10 million Americans suffer some form of TMJ disorder. Most are treatable without surgery, but there are many causes. The most common cause is bruxism, which is involuntary clenching and grinding. Many patients report they “do not grind” but are doing it while asleep. In review, many patients report they wake up with a stiff or achy jaw, soreness around the joint at the ear. It also can present as inflammation or overworked muscles, exacerbated during sleep.
For many patients, wearing a custom dental appliance, known as an occlusal splint or “night guard, is a long term solution. Custom made for you, most people wear it to sleep, but some wear an additional guard during times of stress or for sports, as clenching and grinding can occur. In tandem with wearing a night guard, there are additional steps that can be taken to help with relief of symptoms.
Avoiding chewing gum, hard or crunchy foods that may require prolonged chewing and being cognizant of yelling or yawning is helpful. Mindfulness of your stress and reducing it with meditation and a good night’s sleep can be positive for so many health benefits in addition to bruxism. If this does not resolve your issues, physical therapy can be an additional measure taken to resolve lingering discomfort.
If you find yourself with any of the symptoms addressed here, please contact Weisbard Dental at 303.773.3373 for a complimentary consultation to be evaluated for a night guard.