Temporomandibular Joint Disorder & Bruxism
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) Treatments in Thousand Oaks, Ca
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are located on either side of the skull; they are the two joints that connect the lower jaw (mandible) to the temporal bone. Its primary function is to act as a hinge allowing you to move your jaw to talk, chew, and yawn. This hinge, under normal conditions, allows for gentle movement as the bones that interact are encased in cartilage. Another measure in the joint that ensures smooth behavior is a small disk which helps by absorbing any shock that may occur.
Temporomandibular joint disorders may cause pain in the jaw joints and in the surrounding muscles. The pain associated with TMJ disorders may travel through the face, jaw, and neck. This may result in stiffness, limited range of movement, and in some cases, inflammation that prevents normal TMJ activity.
What are the causes of TMJ disorders?
Some common causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Physical injury or trauma to the teeth or jaw (e.g., from heavy and sudden impact, whiplash)
- Pressure on the joint from teeth grinding or clenching (e.g., from prolonged stress)
- The misalignment, dislocation, or erosion of the small shock-absorbing disk that sits between the ball and socket
- Arthritis in the TMJ (e.g., osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis)
- Poor posture in the areas of the neck and face (e.g., slouching over a computer or phone)
What are the symptoms of TMJ disorders?
Depending on the severity of your condition, you may be experiencing:
- Pain, tenderness, aching, or throbbing in the face, jaw joint, neck, and/or shoulders
- Jaw stiffness or soreness, locking of the joint jaw, and inability to open your mouth wide
- Issues with chewing or uncomfortable biting, struggle with speaking
- Earaches or popping sounds in the ears (e.g., tinnitus)
- Headaches, pain in the temple area
How are TMJ disorders diagnosed?
Temporomandibular joint disorders can be difficult to identify as the pain associated with this disorder may be mistaken for similar conditions (i.e., oral pain, gum disease, or issues with sinuses). For this reason, an expertly trained physician will be necessary to help you understand and ultimately manage your TMJ disorder.
At Vascular Neurology of Southern California, our physicians will begin your consultation by collecting a detailed history of your previous medical conditions and injuries. It is likely that you will require a comprehensive physical exam in an effort to evaluate the range of motion of your jaw and the location of pain/discomfort.
If more information is required, your physician may recommend imaging of your jaw and teeth (i.e., x-ray, CT, or MRI).
What are common treatments for patients diagnosed with a TMJ disorder?
In some patients, TMJ pain can resolve without medical intervention. However, should your symptoms persist, worsen, or interfere with your daily activities, a physician will likely need to be involved. Depending on the cause of your TMJ disorder, either one or a combination of the below treatment options will help to alleviate the discomfort you may be feeling.
Some treatment options for TMJ disorders are the following:
To relieve your pain, your physician may recommend certain over-the-counter pain and swelling relieving medicine. On occasion, a patient may require muscle relaxants should the cause of your TMJ disorder involve teeth grinding or clenching. Anti-anxiety or antidepressant medication can be used to relieve stress-related clenching, tension, and tightness. Medication works on a case-by-case basis and lasts as long as indicated for use.
Trigger point injections:
Our physicians at Vascular Neurology of Southern California have received specialized training to treat TMJ pain by utilizing the trigger point injection treatment. This minimally invasive procedure demonstrates immediate and long-lasting results. The procedure involves an injection to areas of the jaw muscles with a small needle containing either an anesthetic or Botulinum toxin.
The procedure is done in clinic and takes just a few minutes. The injections are not a permanent solution and will require recurring visits to your physician’s office in order to sustain the pain relief. Most patients schedule their appointments 2.5 to 3 months apart.
There are some actions that you can take at home to help with your TMJ pain: these include the use of mouthguards to place over your teeth, counseling for stress and anxiety, a soft food diet, acupuncture, meditation and relaxation techniques, or using ice packs to numb the afflicted areas. Physical therapy could be an option during which exercises to strengthen your jaw maybe be helpful. You and your expert physician will need to discuss the effectiveness of each therapy to derive a plan for your unique circumstances.
In rare but more severe cases, surgery may be required on your jaw or possibly dental surgery. You and your Vascular Neurology of Southern California physician will likely discuss this option should all other options fail.
Learn more about treatments for TMJ by contacting Vascular Neurology of Southern California today. We have locations in Thousand Oaks, West Hills, Lancaster, and proudly serve patients from Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and Southern California.
Bruxism Treatments in Thousand Oaks, Ca
Teeth grinding is a relatively common behavior among adults and children. Occasional teeth grinding does not pose much threat to an individual’s health; however, when grinding or clenching occurs on a regular basis, this is a medical condition called bruxism. Bruxism can cause your teeth to loosen or fracture, or in some cases, you may lose a tooth entirely. If left untreated, your bruxism can lead to temporomandibular joint disorders, and it may further impact the shape and look of your face.
Often, patients who have bruxism perform the teeth grinding or clenching behavior unconsciously. This may happen when you are awake or asleep. Patients only become aware of their bruxism when their condition demonstrates severe side effects or complications.
What are the causes of bruxism?
While direct causes are unclear, some experts believe the following behaviors are involved:
- Emotional distress (e.g., anger, frustration, anxiety, and stress)
- Age can be a factor (children are prone to teeth grinding)
- Side effects of certain prescription medications (e.g., antidepressants fluoxetine and paroxetine or sertraline)
- Lifestyle habits (e.g., excessive use of alcohol or caffeine, smoking tobacco, certain recreational drugs)
- Disorders (e.g., Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, GERD, sleep apnea, snoring, epilepsy, dementia)
- Family history of bruxismz
What are the signs and symptoms of bruxism?
Symptoms look different for each patient, though some common signs include:
- Damaged teeth (e.g., cracked or chipped teeth, worn tooth enamel, loose teeth)
- Sensitive teeth
- Increased pain and tension in the face, neck, and jaw muscles
- Popping or clicking of the temporomandibular joints, which could lead to a TMJ disorder
- Locking or dislocation of the jaw
- Grinding sounds at night that may be apparent to someone you may share space with
- Discomfort while eating, talking, biting, or chewing
How is bruxism treated?
Your treatment will entirely depend on the cause of your bruxism. When you arrive for a consultation with your Vascular Neurology of Southern California physician, your specific circumstances will be discussed. Your expert physician will ask about your personal health history, previous injuries, and present experiences to establish an action plan that right for you.
There are a number of options for patients experiencing bruxism that include:
Non-medical treatment options for bruxism include wearing a mouth guard to protect your teeth. For bruxism related to stress, your physician may recommend counseling for stress and anxiety management. Some patients may benefit from regular exercise or meditation.
There is no concrete medication available to take to treat bruxism specifically. Some patients may benefit from taking anxiety prescriptions to help cope with the emotional distress that is responsible for their bruxism. Your physician may also recommend the temporary use of muscle relaxants to help if perhaps your bruxism is the result of taking medication for another condition.
Botulinum toxin injections:
It is possible that you have exhausted all of the other treatment options and your bruxism remains persistent. In such cases, our Vascular Neurology of Southern California physicians recommend the use of Botox to help alleviate the pain and behavior associated with bruxism. The procedure takes minutes and is minimally invasive; it consists of a series of small injections around the muscles of your jaw. Botox can help relax the muscles surrounding the jaw to reduce clenching and grinding. Another benefit of utilizing Botox is that it will likely lessen the pain and discomfort you may be experiencing. Schedule a consultation today; we are here to help.
Schedule your consultation for Bruxism by contacting Vascular Neurology of Southern California today. We have state-of-the-art facilities in Thousand Oaks, West Hills, and Lancaster, and see patients from all over Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and Southern California.