Jaw pain is a very common affliction that thousands of people suffer from. This pain can be disruptive of normal life and keep those who suffer from it from being able to sleep and eat as they normally should. Pain or discomfort in this are can also result in pain in the neck, head and shoulders. Because of this, it is important to pay attention to and treat this pain in order to keep it from escalating into a bigger problem. Dr. Georgaklis in San Diego has years of experience treating patients with jaw pain and helping them get back to normal life.
If you have this type of pain, it is likely that you suffer from TMJ disorder or TMD. Unfortunately, TMD is often undiagnosed. Though advanced imaging technology can usually detect inflammation or joint damage, many patients are unaware of the symptoms of TMD. Therefore, they do not come in for diagnostic care. The following symptoms are common signs of TMJ Disorder:
- Jaw or facial pain
- Jaw stiffness
- Ringing in the ears
- Ear pain
- Chronic headaches or migraines
- Neck pain
- Shoulder pain
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule a TMJ evaluation. Appropriate treatment can ease discomfort and prevent serious, long-term damage to your jaw joints.
TMD can cause a number of mild to severe side effects. Jaw pain, popping in the jaw, headaches, and jaw stiffness are among the most common symptoms. If you do not seek TMJ treatment, these side effects will worsen. However, without treatment, you could also develop a number of permanent and even life-altering health concerns.
- Bruxism and dental erosion: There is an interesting cyclical relationship between bruxism and TMD. Bruxism can cause TMD. However, TMD can also lead to chronic jaw clinching, which is often an unconscious response to pain. As bruxism worsens, you may experience wear and tear on your teeth, including erosion and small cracks.
- Malnutrition: As jaw pain becomes worse, you may start to avoid certain foods, choosing liquids or soft items instead. Not only will this limit your diet; in severe cases, you could suffer from malnutrition or develop an eating disorder.
- Addiction: Often, patients who do not seek treatment will try to self-medicate with pain pills. As these patients become immune to the effects of medications, they may start to up their dosage, developing a dangerous addiction. In other cases, patients may become alcohol dependent.
- Hearing loss: Because your jaw joints are located right below your ears, inflammation in this area can damage the auditory nerves. You may suffer from chronic tinnitus or even significant hearing loss. Fortunately, our TMJ treatment in San Diego can usually reverse this damage.
- Permanent jaw damage: Without proper care, most of your cartilage could wear away, and the jawbone may even begin to erode. Not only will this cause painful grinding and friction; it could also lead to an increased risk for jaw dislocation.
- A changed appearance: In very severe causes of untreated TMD, the bone erosion could alter the proportions of your face. Muscle inflammation could also cause long-term swelling.
Fortunately Dr. Georgaklis in San Diego has hundreds of happy patients he’s helped with this condition.
The Connection between Dental Alignment and TMD
There are many factors that can cause TMD. Bruxism, whiplash, and facial injuries can all lead to this condition. However, dental misalignment is one of the most common causes of TMD. If you have an imbalanced bite, including an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, it will place uneven pressure across your dental arch. In turn, this will put a lot of stress on your jaw joints. Though malocclusion is more likely to cause TMD, even one or two crooked teeth can damage your sensitive joints.
San Diego Orthodontics Options
Although Dr. Georgaklis offers a wide selection of La Jolla orthodontics, not all options will be appropriate for the treatment of TMD. Typically, the most suitable choices will include:
- Traditional braces: Standard metal braces are appropriate even for severe misalignment. Dr. Georgaklis will carefully calibrate the exact tension needed to straighten your smile.
- Lingual braces: If you are worried about the look of braces, Dr. Georgaklis can also place the brackets on the back of your teeth. Lingual braces can correct most of the same issues as traditional braces. However, it can be harder to adjust to these braces, so Dr. Georgaklis will evaluate your bite before recommending this type of orthodontia.
- Invisalign®: In the past, Invisalign® was only suitable for cosmetic care. However, with improved technology, the treatment can now address the overall alignment of your bite.
Accelerated orthodontics can be a great option to improve the look of your smile, but they are not typically a good option if you want to correct severe misalignment.
Learn More about San Diego Orthodontics
Along with orthodontia, custom mouthguards and chiropractic care can alleviate the symptoms of TMD. George Georgaklis, DDS is dedicated to your health and wellbeing. He will evaluate your tooth and jaw alignment to determine the most appropriate treatment for your needs. Contact us today to schedule your TMJ evaluation with a TMJ expert, Dr. Georgaklis.