Dr. Patrick F. McEvoy typically treats temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder with muscle relaxants and oral splints, which can provide relief for patients suffering from a wide range of TMJ-related issues. TMJ symptoms arise from misalignment or improper seating of the jaw joints. The condition can develop as a result of stress, injury, heredity, grinding or clenching your teeth, and other factors. If you think you may be suffering from this disorder, TMJ therapy at our office in Mountain View, CA, can improve both your comfort and oral function.
Patients suffering from at least one symptom associated with TMJ disorder may benefit from TMJ therapy. It is important that patients commit to the treatment plan prescribed by Dr. McEvoy to experience the best results. Additionally, patients suffering from other conditions related to TMJ may benefit from TMJ therapy. These conditions include chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, chronic headaches, irritable bowel syndrome, interstitial cystitis, sleep apnea, and endometriosis.
Also known as a bite guard, an oral splint is a custom-made appliance that realigns and holds the lower jaw in the correct position as you sleep to reduce pressure on the jaw joints and prevent grinding or clenching your teeth.
Causes and Symptoms
Your temporomandibular joints, or TMJs, are the joints located just in front of your ears, and they hold your lower jaw to your skull. When one or both jaw joints become misaligned, they create stress in the joints and surrounding muscles. The muscles become inflamed from working overtime to hold the jaws in proper position, which increases stress on the surrounding tissues and nerves. There is no definitive cause of TMJ disorder; however, a variety of factors may contribute. These include bruxism (clenching or grinding teeth), malocclusion (misalignment), injury, arthritis, heredity, and hormones. If you have TMJ disorder, you may experience pain in your jaw, teeth, mouth, face, ears, neck, or shoulders. Symptoms vary greatly from person to person, but can include:
- Joint pain in the jaw that may be associated with a clicking or popping sound when chewing, speaking, or yawning
- Inability to fully open/close the mouth
- Pain in the face or ears
- Headaches, including chronic migraines
- Tooth pain from bruxism
- Neck, shoulder, or back pain
- Tingling in fingers or toes
Note that clicking or popping in the jaw by itself can be attributed to a number of different sources, not necessarily TMJ disorder. Dr. McEvoy can provide a diagnosis of your individual symptoms with a consultation at our practice.
You could experience a variety of symptoms, either alone or in combination.
When you see Dr. McEvoy for TMJ pain, his first line of treatment may be to prescribe a muscle relaxer, especially if he thinks your symptoms may be stress related. A muscle relaxer will help calm the muscles around your jaw and ease pain. If your pain is not alleviated or worsens with the muscle relaxer, Dr. McEvoy may recommend an oral splint. Also known as a bite guard, an oral splint is a custom-made appliance that realigns and holds the lower jaw in the correct position as you sleep to reduce pressure on the joints and prevent grinding or clenching your teeth. Oral splints also prevent further damage to teeth, often caused by grinding. In addition to these therapies, Dr. McEvoy may recommend stress reduction techniques.
Risks and Benefits of TMJ Therapy
There are few risks involved with non-surgical, non-invasive TMJ therapy. It is important to note that many muscle relaxants may have side effects and most require that you do not drive or operate other heavy machinery while taking them. Patients who wear their oral splint for longer than the prescribed amount of time may experience facial distortion. Poorly made or ill-fitting oral splints may cause irritation or infection. Many patients undergo TMJ therapy because it can significantly reduce their pain, allowing them to sleep better and improving their overall quality of life.
Dr. McEvoy is a skilled and compassionate doctor who can help you find relief. If you are suffering from jaw joint pain or other pain that may be associated with TMJ disorder, contact us today to schedule an appointment.