Are headaches, jaw pain or earaches become part of your daily life? In America, almost 15 percent of us suffer regularly. It is twice as common in women than in men. The catch is we should actually be turning to our dentist for treatment options. Dr. Auslander can help you take back your life in a big way.

The source of these aches and pains are often related to one or both of the temporomandibular (TM) joints. Located on each side of the head, these joints work together with a complex system of muscles, ligaments, discs and bones, to engineer chewing and speaking functions.

TMJ is characterized by the jaw twisting or moving to the side during opening and closing. The condition is linked to arthritis, improper bites, jaw dislocation, injury, and stress. Stress is a factor for those who complete strenuous physical tasks, as clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism) may aggravate TMJ.

A litany of symptoms often signal the existence of TMJ, leading to its diagnosis. These tend to start with pain in or around the ear, headaches and neck aches, tenderness of the jaw and its muscles, and difficulty opening and closing the mouth. Jaw pain or soreness is typically most prevalent in the morning or late afternoon, especially when chewing, biting or yawning. In addition, clicking or popping noises when opening the mouth accompany the pain. Extensive teeth sensitivity with no other cause is also a red flag.

Unfortunately, there is not a widely accepted, standardized test to accurately identify TMJ. This makes diagnosis particularly difficult. Normally, patients explain related symptoms to the dentist, which is followed by a general mouth and jaw exam, sometimes accompanied by x-rays.

If the Auslander Dental staff believes you are experiencing TMJ, we will suggest a relevant treatment option. First, we want to help you manage the pain. This can mean resting the joint, taking an over-the-counter, anti-inflammatory drug (aspirin or ibuprofen) or applying moist heat to the painful areas. We then might suggest relaxation techniques, if we think stress is a factor in your condition. Biofeedback or relaxation training may be appropriate. A night guard may be prescribed to prevent your teeth from grinding during sleep. If specific functionalities are the root cause, we guide those patients to the correction of poorly aligned teeth. Some type of adjustment, such as orthodontic treatment, may be administered to shift teeth placement. A combination of these practices is imperative in the eventual elimination of symptoms.

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