Right in front of your ears is your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ. It’s what enables your jaw to move in all directions whenever you bite, chew, talk, laugh, or yawn. Just like other joints in the body, it can sometimes develop problems that lead to chronic pain and stiffness, not just in the jaw, but the head and neck as well. Dr. Kitt is not only familiar with these types of issues, but he knows how to treat their root causes as well so that the relief you feel will last for years to come.
A problem with the TMJ is referred to as a TMJ disorder, or TMD for short. One can develop for several reasons, with the most common being an injury to the face/jaw, unconscious teeth grinding (bruxism), daily stress, sleep apnea, and an uneven bite. An accurate diagnosis is the first step to a successful treatment, so Dr. Kitt will closely examine your teeth and jaw to find the imbalances and determine what is causing them so he can remove them, thus stopping the pain for good.
Often, a TMD is the result of a few teeth not coming together correctly when the mouth is closed. If one side is under more pressure than the other, the jaw muscles will unconsciously try to force themselves into a balanced position. This causes the muscles to overwork, tire, and become sore. But, by slightly reshaping a few teeth or restorations, Dr. Kitt can help the bite reach its natural resting position, which will allow the facial muscles to finally relax.
If you grind your teeth while you sleep, and this is the reason for your TMD, how do you stop? One way we can help is with a small oral appliance called an occlusal splint. This custom-made mouthguard, which you’ll only wear to bed, will place your jaw into a more even and relaxed position while preventing your teeth from coming together throughout the night. For some patients, wearing their splint for a few weeks or months is all it takes to fully correct the problem, while others will need to use it indefinitely to ensure they remain pain-free.