Clicks, Pops, and Pain In Your Jaw Are Not Normal

Aches and odd sounds are signals from your body that something is out of whack. Telltale TMJ symptoms include stiffness, locking, clicking, popping, or grating noises coming from your jaw joint. Here are other symptoms to watch out for.

  • Headaches
  • Pain behind the eyes
  • Pain that radiates down your neck and into your arms, shoulders, or back
  • Sensitive or sore teeth
  • Shoulder aches
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Ear congestion or pain
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Clenching or grinding
  • Clicking or popping of your jaw joints
  • Facial pain
  • Limited opening of your mouth
  • Numbness and tingling as far away as your fingers
  • Difficulty closing mouth
  • Lockjaw
  • Worn down or loose teeth
  • Cervical neck problems
  • Forward head posturing

Whether these signs mean you need TMJ treatment in Los Gatos or not, can only be determined following a comprehensive neuromuscular dentistry exam. It’s common for doctors to diagnose a closely related or overlapping condition instead. For example, we often treat people who have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease or trigeminal neuralgia. We can get great results for many of these patients.
The further your pain radiates from the joint, the worse your TMJ is. If you’re experiencing pain in your back or numbness in your fingers, you’re likely experiencing jaw pain and headaches too.

Senior man with TMJ pain in Los Gatos CA

What Causes TMJ?

Various things can cause TMJ disorders, and in many cases, they can go away on their own. A stressful situation may cause a sore jaw that heals when the event is over, or if you’re in an accident, your condition could go away as your jaw heals from the trauma. Other times,  your jaw has been pushed into misalignment and will need correction.

TMJ is classified into three main types.

Internal Derangement of the Joint

This is when the problem in your jaw joint is mainly structural. It could be caused by injury, a displaced disc, or a dislocated jaw. Parafunctional habits could also cause problems. These are when you use your jaw joint in a way it isn’t supposed to be used. Chewing on ice, biting your fingernails, and using your teeth to open packages are examples of parafunctional habits that could cause joint derangement over time.

Degenerative Joint Disease

Conditions such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis can cause your jaw joint to lose density or become inflamed, which will push it out of place.

Myofascial Pain Disorder

This is when the problem is mainly muscular. Typically, it’s caused by daytime and nighttime grinding and clenching habits. Grinding and clenching are often caused by stress, but they can also be genetic, from medication, or an aggressive or competitive personality type.

Regardless of the reason for your TMJ, Los Gatos dentist Dr. Nancy can help. Call (408) 354-5600 for an appointment.

Neuromuscular Dentistry from a Holistic Dentist

Neuromuscular and holistic dentistry go hand in hand. They both focus on treating the problem’s root cause and looking at the problem as a whole. Not just how it affects your jaw, but how TMJ affects the rest of your body too.

Simply put, neuromuscular dentistry considers the teeth, muscles, and joints as a single unit.

Holistic dentistry focuses on the body as a whole while tying in the body’s natural healing mechanisms and only using biocompatible materials.
This means that when a holistic neuromuscular dentist in Los Gatos treats your TMJ, they’ll find your jaw’s healthy, relaxed position and treat it using minimally invasive techniques to encourage it to stay in the correct place—using only techniques that agree with your body’s health.

TMJ Is a Systemic Condition

Although TMJ starts in your jaw, its effects reach far beyond there. In addition to the wide effects of TMJ, the condition overlaps with many related conditions. Some research suggests that TMJ can trigger a chain reaction of chronic health conditions through the release of CGRP (calcitonin gene-related peptide). This can link TMJ with other chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS, also called IBD). Research also links migraines to TMJ. In fact, TMJ is one of the most common chronic overlapping pain conditions (COPC).

Perhaps 75% of people with TMD have another COPC, with the following breakdown, according to a National Institutes for Health summary:

  • Chronic lower back pain (30%)
  • Migraine (30%)
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (24%)
  • Fibromyalgia (22%)
  • Vulvodynia (17%)
  • Interstitial cystitis (13%)
  • Chronic fatigue syndrome (8%)
  • Endometriosis (8%)

We don’t yet know if treating TMJ will resolve all of these conditions, but our experience with migraines makes us hopeful.
Because TMD and sleep apnea are closely linked, Dr. Nancy may also recommend a home sleep test.

TMJ Treatment in Los Gatos

The treatment of your TMJ is dependent on the root cause. So the first step in treatment is diagnosis. Dr. Nancy will perform a thorough exam and consultation to ensure she knows the leading cause of your TMJ. Treatment options could include therapy, a dental orthotic, full mouth reconstruction, or surgery to fix a skeletal issue in rare cases.

Do You Have TMJ Disorder?

Are you concerned that you might have TMJ disorder? The only way to know for sure is to visit your TMJ dentist in Los Gatos for an exam. After the exam, you’ll have a clear picture of why you’re experiencing jaw pain, other TMJ symptoms, and how you can fix it to live pain-free. Call Top Down Dental today at (408) 354-5600 or make an appointment online.