TMJ/TMD

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Treatment & Pain Relief by our Durham Dentist

Here at Dr. Clifton’s Durham, NC dental office, not only do we provide family and reconstructive dentistry for children through adults, we also often see patients who are experiencing pain and stiffness in their jaw, or what is sometimes describe as TMJ. “TMJ” stands for Temporomandibular Joint, or “jaw joint," and Temporomandibular Dysfunction (TMD) is a multifactorial disorder, meaning that there are many causes for the problem.

The jaw joint assists in the basic opening and closing movement of the jaw. Unfortunately, this joint is a common area for recurring pain. Although conventional wisdom suggests that “popping” sounds in the jaw indicates a TMJ dysfunction, this is not always true. Many times, your jaw is functioning properly even if a “popping” sound is present when chewing or talking. Some of the symptoms of TMD can include:

  • Pain or tightness in the sides of the face
  • Pain in front of the ear or sides of the head
  • Headaches
  • Joint sounds like popping or crunching
  • Episodes of jaw locking, closed or open

Dr. Clifton offers a TMJ exam that evaluates the joint tissue in the “hinge” of the jaw. Possible problems include swelling, deterioration of the joint tissue or damaged joint tissue (which cushions the jaw bones during the opening and closing movement of the mouth). Common pain relievers and cold compresses can provide temporary relief for most cases of TMD.

For more serious cases of TMD, we will recommend alternate treatments. Often, we will suggest using a mouth guard to relieve teeth grinding. In some cases, we will instruct you to use orthodontic appliances or retainers to alleviate discomfort or redirect positioning of the jaw joint. For the most severe cases of TMD, we may recommend certain invasive procedures.

Contact Our Durham Dental Office

If you believe you are suffering from TMD and would like some relief from jaw pain, contact Dr. Thomas Clifton’s family dental office today. We proudly serve patients and families throughout Durham and the neighboring communities with comprehensive dentistry, including jaw pain treatment. We look forward to serving you!