TMJ Disorder and Myofascial Pain: Symptoms & Treatment

TMJ Pain Relief Treatment

It is estimated that nearly 10 million people in the United States suffer from jaw misalignment. A misaligned bite can create problems that extend beyond the way you chew or speak. You may experience TMJ (temporomandibular joint) pain in your neck and shoulders or suffer from the consequences of poor posture related to the problems in your jaw. Myofascial trigger points around the TMJ can also sometimes be the source of pain. Our dentists can effectively treat and correct jaw misalignment or malocclusion to help rid you of the painful symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ/TMD), and we offer an array of treatment options for myofascial pain, as well.

If you suffer from TMJ or myofascial pain, please call the DENTAL STUDIO SF today at 415-465-5896 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced dentists.

On this page, you will find information discussing:

What Is TMJ Disorder/TMD?

TMJ Disorder and TMD are essentially interchangeable acronyms for temporomandibular joint disorder. Your temporomandibular joints are the sophisticated joints that attach your lower jaw to the rest of your skull. Unlike any other joints in your body, the temporomandibular joints allow for a broad range of motion.

In order to facilitate chewing and speaking, your jaw must move freely in a variety of angles. Your jaw must also be very strong. Not only do your temporomandibular joints harbor great strength, they also work with some of the other strongest muscles in your body, like your neck and head muscles. These versatile muscles also contain two of your body’s largest nerve clusters. When there is even slight malocclusion, the resulting symptoms can negatively impact your comfort, mobility and ability to perform crucial tasks. Tense, stressed muscles surrounding the TMJs are another potential source of your discomfort. In those cases, trigger point injections may alleviate some of the discomfort by relaxing the muscles.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

There are a number of potential contributing factors to a TMD diagnosis. As part of your TMJ treatment, the dentist will comprehensively examine your jaw to determine the function and shape of your facial muscles and joints.

The most common causes of TMJ disorder include:

Your TMJ treatment consultation is also an opportunity for our dentists to understand your TMJ symptoms and develop a comprehensive view of your neuromuscular health.

Common TMJ Disorder Symptoms

TMJ symptoms can manifest in such varied areas and ways that many sufferers of the condition don’t even realize the source of their discomfort. That’s why it is so important to keep regularly scheduled appointments with your dentist.

During your routine examination with one of our dentists, they will evaluate the condition of your oral structures and ask questions to determine the full state of your oral health. By identifying the symptoms of TMJ early, they are able to address the issue before it becomes a larger, more expensive problem.

Some TMJ symptoms include:

TMJ Headache Pain

TMJ headaches are the most commonly reported symptoms of the disorder. Almost 80 percent of TMJ sufferers experience frequent headaches. TMJ may be a contributing factor to your headaches if:

When you meet with our TMJ specialists, they will conduct a thorough evaluation of your bite and help you determine if TMD plays a role in your chronic migraine-like headaches.

TMJ Ear Pain

Ear pain, as well as tinnitus (ringing in the ears) can result from nerve irritation caused by temporomandibular disorder. TMJ ear pain can present itself as a dull, ongoing irritation or a sharp, searing pain. It can also cause minor muscle spasms in your face. If related to TMJ, you are most likely to experience these symptoms when you:

If you experience TMJ ear pain while performing any of the above tasks, you should seek the attention of our TMD specialists right away for a complete evaluation.

TMJ Neck Pain

Since muscles work like a team, when one muscle works, other muscles are usually bound to join in. The muscles that control eating, chewing, speaking and head posture are intricately linked to the bones in the neck.

By working to correct your bite and relieving strain on the jaw, our dentists in turn address pain that results elsewhere in the body through the complex relationship of the bones, joints, muscles and nerves.

TMJ Pain Relief

Unfortunately, people often turn to medications that can be both physically dangerous and addictive to treat TMJ symptoms. While these drugs may dull the pain, they fail to address the actual problem. The best way to treat your TMJ syndrome is with the supervision of an experienced TMJ specialist. As an active member of the Spear Faculty Club at the renowned Spear Education Institute, Dr. Cornehl has received extensive training in both cosmetic and rehabilitative dentistry.

While a complete smile makeover is a comprehensive TMJ treatment option in addition to a variety of other smile issues, our dentists can also treat your TMD with a more conservative approach. They may choose to fit you with a custom orthotic appliance designed to correct jaw misalignment and relieve your nagging TMJ pain & symptoms. The orthotic device helps to relax your jaw muscles and reduce pressure on your nerves, joints and other oral structures.

Since there are several factors that contribute to TMJ syndrome, there may be several approaches to your TMJ treatment. Other home-treatment strategies may include:

TMJ Exercises

It may not be helpful to perform TMJ exercises at the moment you are experiencing TMJ pain and discomfort. However, once the pain has subsided, there are certain strengthening exercises you can do to help prevent some of the pain from returning. These activities include closing and opening your mouth while applying gentle resistance on your chin.

In addition to performing strengthening exercises, stretching exercises can also help with TMJ pain relief. For these movements, like strengthening exercises, try to move your jaw as much as possible without creating discomfort.

Jaw relaxation exercises may also be able to help with TMJ pain. To help yourself relax, inhale for about five to ten seconds then slowly exhale. Stress can contribute to TMJ pain and any steps you can take to reduce your stress may help ease TMD-related discomfort.

How Does BOTOX® Work for Dental and Facial Pain Conditions?

BOTOX® is an FDA-approved protein complex that temporarily blocks the nerve impulses responsible for muscle contraction. When BOTOX® is injected into the muscles in and around your mouth, it can correct a number of oral health problems, such as TMJ disorder and bruxism. The injections only take a few minutes and results can last for several months at a time.

In the sections below you can learn more about how BOTOX® injections can often be useful in the treatment of TMJ Disorder and bruxism. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to contact our office.

BOTOX® Injections for TMJ Disorder

Millions of people suffer from chronic headaches and recurring neck and facial pain. In some cases, these issues are the result of temporomandibular joint disorder.

Your temporomandibular joints (TMJ) connect your lower jawbone to your skull. These joints are used frequently throughout the day when you speak, chew, swallow, and yawn. When your jaw joints, teeth, and face muscles are not in harmonious balance, you can develop painful complications, such as:

While still a relatively new TMJ treatment option, BOTOX®has been found to effectively address a number of medical issues caused by muscle overexertion. Various conditions, such as chronic migraines, excessive sweating, and uncontrollable blinking have been successfully treated with BOTOX®, making it a viable solution for TMD as well.

Many TMJ symptoms are caused by the overstimulation of the masseter muscle – the muscle primarily used when you speak and eat. During your BOTOX® treatment, Dr. Cornehl will strategically administer a series of injections directly into your masseter muscle, relaxing the muscle and relieving tension in the jaw.

The benefits of using BOTOX®to treat TMJ include:

Repeat sessions are necessary in order to achieve the best results from your BOTOX®treatment. Many patients feel significant relief from their TMJ disorder after only a couple of sessions.

Received great treatment for TMJ Botox and follow-ups. Staff are friendly, offices are clean/modern, and treatment was effective. Botox may not be a long-term treatment for TMJ for some people, but is worth at least a try for temporary relief/reset and some time off pain meds. It definitely helped control my migraines and pain, and I’m really glad I saw Dr. Cornehl. He’s super nice and made the treatment a breeze – I hate needles and was pretty nervous about any aesthetic implications (like not being able to smile, etc.). No negative side effects and you can’t visually see anything post-treatment. Also, there was a 2 week follow-up with some additional trigger point therapy that helped a lot too! Some may find treatment expensive (not covered by insurance), but honestly if you are suffering, so worth the pain relief!

Hannah Dittman

October 25, 2020

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BOTOX® Injections for Bruxism

Bruxism is a medical term that describes the act of teeth grinding and jaw clenching. Chronic teeth grinding can cause aching jaws, severe headaches, ear pain, and can also lead to the wearing down and breaking of your teeth. Teeth grinding can also misalign the temporomandibular joint and lead to TMD. Most cases of bruxism occur during slumber, but the condition can also occur involuntarily during waking hours. It is often linked with contributing factors such as stress or anxiety.

Common bruxism treatments range from sleeping with an uncomfortable mouth guard to exercise regimens meant to relax certain muscles. With BOTOX® treatment, Dr. Cornehl can quickly relax the facial muscles responsible for teeth clenching and grinding and relieve symptoms such as:

Results typically last for four to six months.

What Is Myofascial Pain?

BOTOX® injections or other trigger point injections may also be recommended by our dentists if you suffer from chronic myofascial pain. But what exactly is this pain condition? It involves discomfort caused by tensed, knotted muscles. The pain usually begins at the trigger point but is “referred,” so it is felt in other areas of the body.

Myo- is a prefix referring to muscles, while fascia is the connective tissue surrounding your muscles, thus the word myofascial indicates pain in the muscles and fascia. At the DENTAL STUDIO SF, our dentists see many cases of orofacial pain related to myofascial trigger points (orofacial pain occurs in the mouth, jaws, and face). Most cases of orofacial pain originate from the muscles and fascia surrounding the temporomandibular joints, or TMJs.

Myofascial pain can be so debilitating that it affects your daily life. It originates in your muscles, at the trigger points, which are focused areas of tense muscles. Your muscles’ trigger points may cause the symptoms if they are stressed, strained, or overworked.

If you experience chronic myofascial pain, you may have a point in your body where the pain is focused. It may feel like aching. The pain may originate in the muscle affected, or it may be “referred” pain, meaning you feel it somewhere else nearby or far from the point of origin.

Myofascial pain emanating from a trigger point has been linked to:

This type of tenderness can be truly life-altering. The daily inconvenience and discomfort are not anything you should have to live with. Ask our dentists about your treatment options today.

What Are the Treatment Options for Myofascial Pain?

Effective treatment relies mostly on finding the source of the soreness and the cause. Most often, myofascial pain is treated with some combination of the following:

These are just several of the most common options. There are other potential treatments for myofascial pain that can be discussed. We can determine whether trigger point injections, BOTOX®, or other options can help you find relief from myofascial pain or other types of head, neck, jaw, and TMJ pain.

Schedule Your Treatment Evaluation Today

Effectively treating TMJ dysfunction and myofascial pain depends on the cause of the condition and the circumstances surrounding it. While exercises and over-the-counter medicines may provide temporary relief, it is necessary to seek the help of a highly-trained and experienced TMJ dentist.

Our dentists trained extensively in the field of clinical and restorative dentistry and understand the symptoms, causes, and appropriate treatments of TMJ disorder and myofascial pain. They can help correct your bite and alleviate your symptoms.

To schedule your treatment evaluation, please contact the DENTAL STUDIO SF today by completing the form on this page or calling 415-465-5896. We help patients throughout the Bay Area.