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Relieving Headaches, Jaw Pain, and Teeth Grinding in the Denver, CO Area
Have you noticed that your jaw joints click or pop when you open your mouth? Do the muscles on the sides of your face feel tired or sore? Do your back teeth ache, or have you been told that you grind your teeth while asleep? These are a few of the most common symptoms associated with temporomandibular joint disorder, or dysfunction, which is often referred to as TMJ disorder. If you have any of these nagging symptoms, call Dr. Christian Rippe’s dental office in Centennial, CO at 303-562-1073 today for a consultation. We offer non-surgical, non-invasive TMJ therapy with an oral splint.
How TMJ Starts
The cause of TMJ disorder can stem from malocclusion, stress, injury, genetics, or the destructive and often unnoticed condition we call bruxism, which simply means teeth grinding. Most people grind their teeth while sleeping, and they become aware of this habit when a sleeping partner mentions it or a dentist sees evidence of tooth wear on molars.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
Temporomandibular joint disorder occurs when the bones that make up the jaw joint(s) are not properly seated, so when the lower jaw (mandible) moves, the joints, muscles, cushion, and nerves are irritated. When you close your mouth, the joints should be seated in a fully restful position. With TMJ disorder, the resting position isn’t possible. As you use your jaw while speaking, eating, yawning, or coughing, the joint and surrounding tissues become stressed. Even when you sleep, the jaw joint is not in a resting position, so muscles become overworked and spasm, as a result. This causes molars on the upper and lower arches to grind and clench, which can cause enamel wear, fractures, and breakage. As molars wear down, the condition worsens because teeth help hold the jaw in position when the mouth is closed. As the teeth change, so does the bite, or occlusion. This only worsens the condition.
- Jaw clicking, popping, and/or locking
- Teeth grinding
- Jaw, ear, face tenderness/pain
- Difficulty opening/closing mouth, chewing
What Is TMJ Therapy?
At Dr. Rippe’s Centennial dental office, he can evaluate patients for signs of TMJ disorder. To correct jaw position and relieve symptoms, the doctor uses an oral splint, or bite guard, that resembles an athletic mouthguard. The appliance fits into the mouth and should be worn during sleep. If the patient grinds his teeth during the day, it may be worn then, as well.
The TMJ splint is calibrated to the patient’s needs, so it allows the jaw joints to rest in proper, comfortable position, while also eliminating the potential for teeth grinding. In some cases, before creating a splint, Dr. Rippe will suggest that a patient wear a MAGO splint for a time. This helps the doctor find the proper resting position for the jaw joints.
In some patients, the oral splint will help the brain reprogram jaw muscles, so the muscles naturally seat jaw joints in proper resting position, even when the splint is not being worn. Not all patients’ bodies respond I this way, however. Some must wear the corrective appliance indefinitely, while sleeping, as an ongoing therapy.
Other treatment options include building up back teeth with dental crowns, to equilibrate the bite, or wearing braces to correct the malocclusion that is causing TMJ disorder.
Why Turn to a Dentist for TMJ Treatment?
Dr. Rippe has studied TMJ disorder and therapies. Because the jaw joints are part of the greater oral system, it makes sense that a dentist should treat TMJ disorder. Outside of dental therapy with an oral splint, patients may seek treatment from a physician or ear, nose, and throat specialist. Oftentimes, these doctors will advise surgery to correct TMJ disorder. In severe cases, surgery may be the only viable treatment option. When non-surgical, non-invasive TMJ therapy with an oral splint relieves symptoms, it provides a practical, affordable, and less risky treatment option.
Don’t Suffer with Jaw Pain
Left untreated, TMJ disorder can worsen, which means pain and destruction will increase. If you suspect TMJ disorder, call our Centennial, CO dental office today at 303-562-1073 to schedule your consultation with Dr. Rippe.