The temporomandibular joint (or TMJ) is one of the most unique and complicated joints in your body. It has an incredible range of motion; moving your jaw up, down, and side to side. You can also slide it forward and backward.
But a joint this complex can develop equally complex issues. Following trauma to the jaw, stress, or a misaligned bite, patients may develop TMD (temporomandibular joint disorder). This condition affects an estimated 5-12% of people.
A few signs of a TMJ disorder include:
- A stiff or locked jaw
- Popping sounds when you open your mouth
- Sore jaw
- Waking up with facial pain or earaches
For some, TMJ disorders cause mild to moderate discomfort and they may improve without treatment. But for others, the result is severe pain that persists for days.
How do you know when it’s time to contact an emergency dentist? Here’s what to look for:
Assess Your Symptoms
Start by asking yourself how you’re feeling (and how long you’ve been feeling that way). If these symptoms describe your situation, it’s time to call for emergency dental care:
You’re experiencing intense and persistent pain
Most patients experience jaw pain as soon as they wake; this is because they clench their teeth in their sleep. Even though the issue stems from your temporomandibular joint, the pain may be in other areas of your face, like the ears or cheeks.
You’re having trouble moving your jaw
Are you unable to open your jaw without pain? In some cases, the jaw may lock in place completely. This makes it difficult to eat or speak properly.
TMJ disorder is interfering with your job, schooling, and/or other responsibilities
It’s difficult to focus when you’re in pain, and this only gets worse when the pain spans over many days or weeks. Seeking treatment for your TMJ disorder can improve your performance at your job or in school.
Another question to ask yourself is this: how long have you been experiencing symptoms? If your pain is temporary, it may be the result of a stressful event. Once the issue is resolved, you may find that your jaw goes back to normal. But if you’ve been noticing the pain for a long time, it’s a sign that treatment is necessary.
How Can An Emergency Dentist Help?
You’re looking for an immediate solution for your pain and discomfort. What can an emergency dentist do to alleviate the side effects of TMD?
Depending on the root cause of your pain, treatments will vary. One of the main causes behind TMJ disorder is stress. Your dentist can teach you various exercises and massages that help you relax your jaw muscles.
Another option is a dental splint (also known as a mouthguard). You can wear this at night to separate the top and bottom jaw. The dental splint prevents you from clenching your teeth and allows your jaw to relax, which reduces strain from TMJ disorder.
In severe cases, surgery may be an option. This is useful when the jaw is misaligned or damaged. If other treatment options are ineffective, you might consider dental surgery.
Contact An Emergency Dentist
We’ve talked a lot about TMJ disorder, but the bottom line is this: if you’re experiencing severe mouth or jaw pain, the best thing you can do is call an emergency dental clinic in Edmonton.
At Edmonton Emergency Dentists, we’re here to help. When you call our clinic, we’ll put you in touch with a dentist near you. Call today!