My Blog

Posts for tag: jaw pain

By Elite Smiles
September 07, 2019
Category: Oral Health
Tags: jaw pain   tmj disorders  

Chronic pain affects the quality of life for an estimated 50 million adults in the U.S. alone. The American Chronic Pain Association designates September as “Pain Awareness Month” to highlight the many conditions that cause chronic pain and strategies to manage them. Among these are conditions that can involve your oral or facial health. Here are two painful mouth and face disorders and what you can do about them.

Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMD). TMD is a common condition often seen in the dental office. The temporomandibular joints connect the lower jaw to the skull and facilitate activities like eating or speaking that require jaw movement. If they and their associated muscles become inflamed, this can trigger debilitating chronic pain. If you suffer from TMD symptoms, make sure we know about it so we can make your dental visits as comfortable as possible.

When possible, avoid irreversible and invasive treatments for TMD that may permanently change your bite, such as surgery or having teeth ground down. Instead, most healthcare professionals recommend a more conservative approach. Try the following tips to alleviate TMD pain:

  • Eat soft foods so you do not aggravate the jaw joint.
  • Avoid extreme jaw movements like suddenly opening your mouth very wide.
  • Use ice packs and moist heat to relieve discomfort.
  • Ask us about jaw exercises to stretch and relax the jaw.
  • Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as meditation, yoga, tai chi or taking short walks to clear your mind.

Burning Mouth Syndrome. The sensation that the mouth has been burned or scalded without an obvious cause is most common among women during menopause. While researchers can’t yet pinpoint clear causes for it, the list of suspects includes hormonal changes, neurological or rare autoimmune disorders or medication-induced dry mouth.

The first step to treatment is an oral exam along with a complete medical history to identify any possible contributing factors. Depending on the results, we can offer recommendations to manage your symptoms. The following tips often help:

  • Keep your mouth moist. We can recommend an artificial saliva product or medication to increase saliva flow if needed.
  • Change your toothpaste if it contains irritating ingredients.
  • Identify and avoid foods and beverages that seem to precede an episode. These may include spicy foods, coffee and alcoholic beverages.
  • Quit smoking, as this is often linked to burning mouth episodes.

The pain and discomfort caused by these and other oral conditions can put a dent in your life. A visit to your dentist, though, could be the first step to finding relief.

If you would like more information about oral conditions that produce chronic pain, please contact us or schedule a consultation. To learn more, read the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Seeking Relief From TMD” and “Burning Mouth Syndrome.”

By Elite Smiles
November 16, 2017
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmj   jaw pain  

A persistent clicking feeling when you chew, difficulty opening your mouth to brush your teeth, ongoing headaches--does this sound like a jaw painlist of your symptoms? If so, you might be dealing with TMJ, a common pain disorder that affects the jaw joint. Dr. Geetha Sripathi, your dentist in Morrisville, NC, sees patients at Elite Smiles who suffer from TMJ, and she can help diagnose and treat this condition.

What is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which helps to explain where the problem originates. This joint is what opens and closes the jaw, but when it is misaligned or damaged, painful and inconvenient problems develop. Misalignment may be something you were born with, but it can also happen from trauma to the jaw. Degeneration of the cushioned area between the joint, such as with arthritis, may also be to blame. The joint and the muscles around it - the cheek, ear, even the neck and shoulders - can feel very sore, even painful to the touch. The jaw may emit a clicking or popping noise when it's moving, it may be difficult or impossible to fully open the mouth, and some people report the jaw getting "stuck" in an open position. Chronic headaches may accompany these symptoms.

How is TMJ treated?

An examination from your Morrisville dentist, which usually includes X-rays, will confirm the diagnosis of TMJ. There are physical therapy exercises you can do at home that can help to release pressure and relax your jaw. Dr. Sripathi may also suggest an oral appliance. In this case, measurements are taken of your mouth and teeth in order to craft a custom-made appliance, also called a split or mouth guard, that you will wear during sleep to help gradually guide your jaw into a more comfortable position. Working with Dr. Sripathi and following her instructions is essential to prevent any overcorrection from developing.

With her extensive knowledge of cranial anatomy, Dr. Sripathi is a great resource for Morrisville dental patients who are dealing with TMJ. To schedule an appointment, contact Elite Smiles in Morrisville, NC today!

By Elite Smiles
November 07, 2015
Category: Oral Health
Tags: tmd   tmj   jaw pain  

As many as 36 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some form of chronic jaw pain. What’s more, many of these may also experience other painful conditions like arthritis or chronic fatigue in other parts of their body.

Chronic jaw pain is actually a group of difficult to define disorders collectively referred to as temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJD or also TMD). TMD not only refers to pain symptoms of the temporomandibular (jaw) joints but also of the jaw muscles and surrounding connective tissue. Most physicians and dentists agree TMD arises from a complex range of conditions involving inheritable factors, gender (many sufferers are women of childbearing age), environment and behavior.

A recent survey of approximately 1,500 TMD patients found that nearly two-thirds of them also suffered from three or more related health problems like fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, headaches, depression and problems sleeping. The understanding of TMD’s connection with these other conditions is in its early stages of research, but there’s avid interest among healthcare providers to learn more and possibly devise new treatments for TMD in coordination with these other related conditions.

In the meantime, TMD patients continue to respond best with the traditional approach to treatment, including physical therapy, thermal (hot or cold) compresses to the area of pain, medication and modifying the diet with more easier to chew foods. In extreme cases, jaw surgery may be recommended; however, success with this approach has been mixed, so it’s advisable to get a second opinion before choosing to undergo a surgical procedure.

Hopefully, further study about TMD and its connection with other conditions may yield newer treatments to ease the pain and discomfort of all these conditions, including TMD. You can stay up to date on these and other developments for coping with the discomfort of TMD at and through your healthcare provider team.

If you would like more information on TMD, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Chronic Jaw Pain and Associated Conditions.”