TMJ Treatment in Walnut Creek, CA

At Smile Power Orthodontics, we strive to help patients throughout Walnut Creek and the greater East Bay area achieve beautiful, healthy smiles through convenient orthodontic treatment. We're proud to use braces, Invisalign, and other cutting-edge orthodontic treatments to help patients achieve a beautiful new smile, but orthodontic treatment goes beyond aesthetics. In addition to helping perfect your smile, we can also use orthodontics to treat the pain and discomfort of TMJ.

What Is TMJ?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the jaw joint that connects the lower jaw to the skull. While the acronym TMJ technically only stands for the full name of the jaw joint, TMJ is often used interchangeably with TMD: temporomandibular joint disorder. TMD is a broad term that refers to a variety of jaw problems, and symptoms can range from acute pain in the jaw to severe headaches, neck pain, and other problems. 

Symptoms of TMD

TMD is one of the most common oral health problems for adults, with roughly 7 million people currently experiencing TMD and 30% of people experiencing it at some point in life. TMD can cause a variety of symptoms, including:

  • Clicking or popping noises when opening or closing the mouth
  • Inability to fully open the mouth
  • Jaw pain
  • Facial pain
  • Constant or recurring headaches
  • Neck pain
  • Pain or tenderness in the ear or neck when opening the mouth wide

TMD symptoms can vary greatly, and many of these symptoms could also be caused by other conditions. If you experience symptoms like these, you should schedule an appointment with your Walnut Creek orthodontist for a more thorough diagnosis. 

What Causes TMJ Pain?

Causes of TMD can be murky, and we still don't fully understand all causes. That said, there are a variety of conditions and factors that are linked to TMJ, including:

  • Bruxism (chronic teeth grinding, usually at night)
  • Genetics
  • Injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Hormones
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Orthodontic problems

TMJ Treatment in Walnut Creek, CA

We provide comprehensive TMD treatment related to bite issues. Dr. Powers will perform a TMJ screening as a part of a comprehensive orthodontic examination. With symptoms, additional imaging and evaluation may be recommended. Follow-up referrals to a physical therapist that specializes in Jaw joint therapy or additional imaging such as MRI. Some TMD can often be simple over the counter pain management and protection from habits or bite correction that may be contributing. The treatment can also be quite complex requiring multiple specialists such as a physical therapist, restorative dentist and surgeons.

For simpler, milder cases of TMD, we'll often recommend simply managing the pain with over the counter painkillers and cold compresses. For more severe cases, we may recommend using a night guard to protect from grinding or using orthodontic treatment to reposition the teeth for a healthier bite. In the most serious cases, we may recommend jaw surgery to alleviate pain. 

Schedule a Consultation with Your Walnut Creek Orthodontist

TMJ is a common issue for adults, and your Walnut Creek orthodontist is here to help you overcome it. Take the first step to jaw pain relief and a healthier smile: schedule a consultation at our Walnut Creek orthodontic office today!