The small hinges that connect your jaw to your skull and allow it to move fluidly are called the temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. Whether due to stress, strain, or injury, this joint and the surrounding muscles can sometimes become tense and painful, leading to what is called TMJ disorder, or TMD. If a stiff, painful jaw, chronic migraines, or unconscious teeth grinding are common problems for you, Dr. Joseph Moussa can help you get the relief you need with non-invasive and drug-free treatments.
TMD can be brought on by a number of different factors, but the most common tend to be stress, injury, arthritis, and a misalignment of the bite that causes tension in the jaw muscles. When you come to see us exhibiting TMD symptoms, Dr. Moussa will use a variety of tests and scans to determine the root cause of your pain. Once this is revealed, he’ll recommend a variety of treatments to provide relief, which can include everything from simple facial stretches to those we’ve outlined below.
We use this treatment in cases where a misalignment of the teeth is causing the TMD. Often, a misaligned bite can cause quite a bit of pressure to be exerted on just a small number teeth, leading to sharp pain. For this procedure, we’ll take a scan of your bite to discover the high-pressure spots, and then we’ll strategically and slightly reshape a few teeth so they can come together smoothly and evenly. This is will allow the jaw muscles to relax and therefore help alleviate TMD.
An occlusal splint is a small, custom-made mouthguard a patient will only need to wear to bed, and it works by slightly repositioning the jaw into a more natural and relaxed position. It can also help protect the teeth from unconscious teeth grinding during the night. For many patients, the jaw is eventually able to stay in this new position without the aid of the splint after just a few months of continuous use, but for others, they will need to continue wearing it to see results.
Muscle tension and pain stemming from TMD can sometimes be caused (or worsened) by sudden, uncontrollable contractions and spasms within the jaw, and these movements are what often leads to unconscious teeth grinding. However, with a few strategically placed BOTOX injections, we can stop these muscles from spasming, which will help relieve any TMD-related discomfort. This treatment only takes a few minutes to apply, and the results can easily last for months at a time.