Tag Archives: Temporomandibular joint dysfunction

I think I have lock jaw.

Hi,

I have been told that I have TMD. I am 17 and have dealt with lock jaw for over three years now. It usually just clicks, but the other day it was really bothering me. So I decided to use an old sports mouth piece I had to avoid clenching. When I removed it, my jaw locked. When I went into the dentist, they said they wanted to do an impression so a splint could be made. It should be a few more days but then I should have the splint. I just don’t know if I can take it any longer. My articular disc is out of place and has been locked up for a couple days now. I have been taking anti-inflammatory drugs and wearing that mouth guard to help.

Is there anything else that can be done to keep my jaw from being locked? Do you know any tricks to unlock it?

– Leslie in North Carolina

Leslie,

Individuals that suffer from lock jaw have a condyle that doesn’t return to the proper position. The condyle is the head of the lower jaw and the disc that separates the skull from the condyle is the articular disc. This sounds like what is troubling you and causing your temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Sometimes this painful condition can last up to two weeks. And the most common TMJ treatment is anti-inflammatory drugs and in some cases muscle relaxers. Individuals with TMJ / TMD may do better eating soft foods if their jaw gets locked up. Heat and ice may help periodically, as well to reduce the inflammation.

The splint is a TMJ treatment that will reposition the condyle into a better position in correlation with the disc. You may notice some popping and clicking on occasion but hopefully your symptoms are noticeably improved. When the splint treatment doesn’t work, you may need to consider seeing a TMJ dentist or TMJ specialist that can explore your options. Sometimes surgery is recommended to reposition the disc for the best long-term function. There is much training that is required beyond dental school to treat this condition well, so be sure to make sure your dentist has TMJ credentials and proven treatment success.

Here are some tips to avoid increased aggravation of the TMJ and the muscles around it.

  • Relaxation exercises (yoga or meditation) work well for some.
  • Avoid gum.
  • Soft foods will help and stay away from chewy/sticky food.
  • Try not to open your mouth all the way when yawning if possible.
  • When you are awake, do not grind or clench.
  • At night, be sure to wear your splint. This is when most grinding and clenching take place. But don’t use the splint as a long-term solution because issues with bite alignment may become apparent.
  • Orthodontics may correct the alignment of teeth if this is a cause for the TMJ dysfunction.

This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.

TMJ Mouth Guard

My family cannot afford to go to the dentist for many reasons. My parents have had recent medical issues which have us owing over three thousand dollars or so in expenses. But my TMJ is bothering me so much. It has been a few weeks now that it has been locked up and I have a lot of difficulty even opening my mouth. Do you know if one of the mouth guards that I can get at the drug store will work? Or are they even worth it?

– Ashley in Rhode Island

Ashley,

Sorry to hear that you deal with TMJ disorder. Have you tried using hot and cold packs? If you alternate between using the hot and then the cold pack multiple times through the day, this may help with the inflammation in the joint. Go ahead and give it a try if you haven’t already and keep the packs in place for 10 minute intervals. You should also try 800mg of ibuprofen as needed or up to three times a day to help with the inflammation and pain.

To answer your question, the mouth guard that you buy in the store is probably going to help a little bit. It depends on how much your grind your teeth because you will wear it down pretty fast if you grind a lot. There are different sizes available at the store. It is probably best to go with the one size fits all, unless you know your exact size. One of these mouth guards will probably cost about 20 dollars and it is better than nothing. Although, you will be much better off treating your temporomandibular joint dysfunction by getting a guard from the dentist’s office. It will be well worth the few hundred dollars for a custom fit. It is also possible that your dental insurance may cover this kind of treatment, if you have insurance. Or you may want to consider CareCredit. Many dentists accept their interest-free payment plans. You can also talk to your dentist about your situation and they may have payment plans, a medical card, or other program available to help out.

Hopefully this information was helpful.

This post is sponsored by Newton MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.

Should my crowns touch my other teeth?

Hello,

I have had several crowns, and I was recently fitted for two new crowns. One of them is going to be a porcelain crown and the other gold. The upper rear and adjacent molars are the two teeth that I’m referring to. The end product is leaving a gap of at least one millimeter or so from the bottom teeth which also have crowns on them. I was under the impression that they should touch the opposing teeth. Was this done correctly? I’d like to know because I think I need to have another one done on the other side.

– David in Pennsylvania

David,

To answer your question, yes, a dental crown should touch the opposing tooth. So much goes into the study of how teeth come together. This study is called occlusion and is very in depth. There are many factors that dictate precisely how and where crowned teeth touch.

Another important factor to consider is how the upper and lower teeth come together in regard to how your jaw and bite function. A properly aligned jaw should have all your teeth touching at the same time when you clench your jaw. There are two patterns of occlusion when moving your teeth from side to side. The first is called canine-protected occlusion where only your canine teeth are touching. The canines are designed to handle the additional sideways stress because they have longer tooth roots.

The other pattern of occlusion for side to side movement is called group function. This means that when you grind your teeth sideways, all of the posterior teeth touch evenly because they are sloped similarly.

You may or may not have heard about a test that a dentist can use to check your bite. A thin plastic strip is placed between your back teeth. The strip is very thin, approximately 0.05 millimeters thick. Basically, wherever the strip is placed on the back teeth, you should be able to keep the strip in place while the dentist tries to remove it. Your bite should hold it in place.

Even if your back teeth are touching, they still may not be touching correctly. In turn, this could throw your bite out of alignment. This is serious because it is one of the factors involved with TMJ disorder.

This post is sponsored by Newton, MA cosmetic dentist Ultimate Aesthetics.

Related link: TMJ therapy