TMJ Specialist Chicago

TMJ Specialist Chicago

Enjoying life to the fullest requires unhindered use of your mouth and jaw. When jaw pain disrupts your ability to speak or eat comfortably, it hampers your connections with others and transforms basic tasks like eating into burdens rather than joys.

If you’re grappling with symptoms like jaw pain, facial numbness, popping, migraines, or ringing in the ears, you might be dealing with temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Working with a Chicago TMJ dentist can help you find relief. Reach out to us at (312) 642-1014.

Everybody is so friendly and the doctor is awesome. I have been going for my TMJ issues - getting Botox and new mouth appliances to help me not grind. I have seen amazing improvement in my TMJ pain.
- Kean (Yelp Review)

What is TMJ?

Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) is responsible for controlling your jaw movement. Simply, it’s a hinge connecting your jaw to your skull, allowing you to chew, talk, and yawn. When something goes wrong with your TMJ, it can cause pain, discomfort, and restricted jaw movement. TMJ disorders also may be a factor with increased headaches.

A temporomandibular disorder (TMD) is much more than a mere jaw problem. Even a minor issue can affect how your jaw functions and cause pain impacting the overall quality of your life. Understanding the impact TMD can have on your well-being can lead to better pain management, as TMD can be a significant hurdle to being pain-free and living your life to its fullest.

Your First Appointment

During your first appointment, we will conduct a gentle examination and ask questions in order to understand the full extent of your symptoms and how they are impacting you on a daily basis. It is critical that you see a dentist that appreciates the nature of TMJ and the need for caution during dental care. Otherwise, you could further irritate your jaw and muscles, leading to further discomfort.

Whether you want to understand your symptoms, are browsing through treatment options, or are just curious about TMJ, here’s what you must know about TMJ and how Dr. Margaret Mitchell can help you reclaim a pain-free life.

Types of TMJ Problems

TMJ disorders generally fall into three categories:

A man with brown hair and a gray shirt touches his face because of his TMJ pain.

Muscle Pain

Muscle pain, sometimes called Myogenous TMJ Disorders, involve muscle related pain and manifest as discomfort in the jaw, temple, neck or shoulder muscles–especially upon waking. Botox for TMJ can often be effective for this type of pain as well as nightguards that control clenching. (Drugstore nightguards are typically only effective at preventing grinding).

A woman with dark hair touches her jaw, which appears to be out of place and causing her TMJ pain.

Jaw Derangement

Internal derangement of the TMJ can involve a dislocated jaw, displaced disc within the TMJ or injury to the condyles (the rounded ends of the lower jaw that fit up into the jaw joint). This type of disorder presents real challenges. Your jaw won’t open correctly, you might experience a sharp pain, and the jaw’s mechanics may have gone a little off-track.

An older man in a blue shirt holds his hands over his jaw as he looks down, likely due to his TMJ pain.

Joint Disease

These conditions include diagnoses like osteoarthritis and/or rheumatoid arthritis in the TMJ. In these instances, the joint that has helped you talk and chew all these years may have started to degrade or wear out. This can lead to stiffness, changes in how your teeth fit together, and a grating sensation.

Many TMJ problems can be treated by dentists. However, internal derangements and degenerative joint disease may require the additional involvement of a physician.

Causes of TMJ and the Link to Stress

The exact cause of TMJ disorders is often difficult to determine. It can result from a multitude of factors factors including genetics, arthritis, and previous or a new jaw injury. Stress can be a significant component, often leading to teeth grinding or clenching, which often aggravates TMJ symptoms. These unconscious habits, especially prevalent during sleep, put excessive pressure on the TMJ, leading to pain and discomfort. Other factors, like poor posture, especially while using a computer, laptop, or mobile device, can strain the neck and facial muscles, further worsening TMJ issues. Understanding your triggers is important because it highlights that TMJ is not just a dental or jaw issue but can be a whole-body health concern influenced by factors like lifestyle choices, everyday habits, and even mental well-being.

TMJ Treatment Chicago

TMJ Treatment of Low Level, Episodic Pain

In some cases, TMJ pain can go away without major intervention, but it usually requires some management. Milder issues often respond well to self-managed care. You may start by consuming soft foods more often to put less stress on the jaw. Use an ice pack to decrease inflammation in the affected area. Steer clear of extreme jaw movements, such as wide yawning or extensive chewing, to not aggravate the symptoms. Engage in gentle jaw mobility exercises to ease any muscle tension. Some over the counter pain relievers can also help with pain and inflammation.

TMJ Treatment of Prolonged TMJ Pain

For more severe or prolonged TMJ pain, treatment methods may include the following:

  • Prescription medication, including muscle relaxants, anti-inflammatory drugs, and even certain antidepressants.
  • Exercises that strengthen and stretch the jaw muscles.
  • Oral splints or mouth guards can be particularly helpful for those who grind or clench their teeth.
  • Therapy can be an effective part of treatment for stress management.

You may also be suggested a combination of treatments, including all of the above, to get to the root cause of TMJ and address the concerns effectively.

Other Types of TMJ Therapy

TMJ dentists like those at the Mitchell Dental Spa rely on nightguard therapy to control TMJ pain. Depending on the severity of an individual’s TMJ problem, though, cold laser treatments, hot-cold therapy, and cranial sacral massage can also be useful. The Mitchell Dental Spa offers all of these.

Botox for TMJ

Botox®, commonly known for its cosmetic use, has emerged as a potent treatment option for TMJ disorders. When injected by Dr. Mitchell, an experienced TMJ dentist, it can help relax the overreacting jaw muscles, relieving surrounding tension, TMJ headaches, and facial pain. Botox for TMJ can be a minimally invasive alternative to those extensive surgical procedures. The treatment process is relatively quick and safe and can be performed at our dental office. Ideally, the treatment can last for a few weeks to several months. During this period, you may experience significant relief in pain and improvement in jaw functioning.

Remember: It’s essential to have a complete evaluation of your jaw health and thoroughly discuss your options with our Dr. Mitchell. This will help determine if you are a good candidate for Botox TMJ treatment and what to expect going forward.

Your Healing Journey Begins Here

TMJ pain can be excruciating. It doesn’t have to be something you have to live with forever. Understanding your condition, managing triggers, and seeking proper care can help you bid goodbye to TMD and its associated symptoms. Stay informed and proactive about your health, and do not hesitate to consult an experienced TMJ dentist like Dr. Mitchell if you suspect you have TMJ problems or when you’re seeing signs like jaw tenderness, pain around the ears, and difficulty opening or closing the jaw. Let’s keep those jaws working smoothly. Schedule your consultation today and discover your healing path with us.

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