When you think about dentistry, do you find yourself thinking primarily of care for your teeth and gums? If so, we’d like to expand your focus and tell you about another important part of optimal oral health—a healthy, functional temporomandibular joint.
Your temporomandibular joint, abbreviated as TMJ, is the most used joint in your body.
- TMD affects an estimated 10 million Americans.
- To feel your jaw joints, place your fingers in front of your ears, then open and close your mouth.
- Your TMJ acts as a hinge and facilitates sliding movements.
- Because TMD is more common in women than men, scientists are studying whether this is due to hormonal differences.
- TMD can be a sign of sleep apnea.
Treating the cause of your TMD can prevent pain.
When you experience chronic facial and head pain as a result of TMD, it can be easy to fall into a cycle of taking anti-inflammatory drugs. Headaches and migraines are no joke, and the pain can travel through your neck, shoulders, and create problems for your posture, too. Who would have thought such a small joint could create such serious symptoms?
- Sometimes the cause of TMD is a misaligned bite—this can be corrected with orthodontic treatment.
- If your TMD is due to nighttime bruxism, a nightguard can provide relief.
- Nightguards can prevent grinding that wears your enamel down.
- Facial massage and lowering stress levels can help ease tension in your face and give your TMJ a break.
There are a few different ways TMD can be treated, ranging from nightguards to surgery.
What if your solution had esthetic benefits?
When you hear the word Botox®, do you think of your dentist? Probably not, but here’s why you might start: Botox has been approved by the FDA for the clinical treatment of chronic pain from TMD. Botox works as a wrinkle smoothing treatment by interrupting the muscle contractions that cause them—these constant muscle contractions could exacerbate your TMJ pain, too.
- Botox at the dentist is a quick procedure and can be made more comfortable with an anesthetic.
- Experience a dramatic reduction in head and facial pain—and a smoother facial appearance.
- Dr. Hawkins trained extensively with the American Academy of Facial Esthetics to become a certified provider of Botox.