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You were driving to work when it struck – another headache! You pop a handful of over-the-counter analgesics but you know they won’t help much. You’ll have to suffer with this pain all day whether you go to work or turn around and go home. Day after day, you wake up with a headache and aching jaw. Day after day, you struggle through the pain. You have seen doctor after doctor but they just prescribe pain meds or tell you to relax and reduce the stress.
Does this sound familiar? You may be dealing with TMJ disorder, a common disease afflicting millions of Americans.
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone to the skull. TMJ disorders often cause discomfort in the cheek, jaw, or ear areas and can affect normal jaw function.
In less severe cases TMJ disorders can be treated with self-managed care (eating soft foods, using ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movement) or nonsurgical treatments (anti-inflammatory medications, Botox injections, or stabilization splints). In more severe cases, surgical treatments (jaw joint replacements) may be necessary.
TMJ conditions fall into three main categories:
- Myofacial pain – discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function (grinding teeth can result in this type of TMJ disorder)
- Internal derangement of the joint – a possible indicator of a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle
- Arthritis – a degenerative inflammatory disorder
Signs and symptoms of TMJ disorders are frequently intensified by stress and can include:
- Soreness in the cheek or jaw area
- Pain in or around the ears
- Facial pain
- Tight jaws
- Popping or clicking sounds when opening mouth
- Locking of the jaw
- Difficulty chewing
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
Often TMJ stems from a bad bite or a lack of harmony in the way your teeth come together. It can be a result of stress, clenching, an accident or other trauma or even poorly balanced dental work.
What Can Dr. Graziano do to Help?
Dr. Graziano uses the principles of Centric Relation to help relax your jaw muscles and move your bite back into its ideal position.
This process starts with a specially made bite appliance to relax your muscles and create an artificial perfect bite. Once your bite has relaxed into the proper position, we will use equilibration to keep it that way. Equilibration is a delicate procedure that requires extreme skill and a trained hand. To equilibrate your bite, Dr. Graziano will carefully smooth and buff the biting surfaces of your teeth to equalize stress and harmonize the way your teeth meet and relate to each other by removing any unevenness or irritant.
After equilibration, we restore and replace teeth that need care, and take impressions for your own, custom-made occlusal (bite) guard. This occlusal guard balances your bite and protects your teeth from further damage.