TMJ treatment for San Francisco area patients
TMJ is an often-heard phrase that relates to pain, grinding, and locking of the jaw. Many times, parents become familiar with the term when children grind their teeth, or when adolescents have unexplained jaw pain. However, it is important to note that TMJ disorders also affects adults. For treatment in the San Francisco area, patients trust Dr. Leo Arellano.
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) connects the lower jaw to the skull. With two fingers placed just in front of the ear, you can feel a small indentation. If you keep your fingers in place while opening and closing your mouth, you will likely feel the rounded edges of the jaw as it shifts inside the joint. Completing this exercise without pain indicates that the joint needs no treatment.
However, if you have pain, hear a popping or clicking noise, or have a jaw that locks into an open or closed position, you could have a TMJ disorder, caused by a dysfunction of that joint. If pain lasts for more than a few days, or if it is intense and begins to creep into the head, neck, or face, it is time to schedule an appointment with Dr. Arellano.
Once a TMJ dysfunction has been diagnosed, Dr. Arellano may suggest treatment with a custom-made oral appliance called a nightguard. The device brings the jaw joint into better alignment and relieves pressure, to alleviate uncomfortable symptoms. The appliance fits over the upper or lower teeth and may keep you from subconsciously clenching and grinding. Clenching and grinding, called bruxism, may also be a sign of sleep apnea. In this case, a nightguard alone might actually worsen the bruxism, but a custom-made oral appliance that fits on both the upper and lower teeth can help both the bruxism and sleep apnea.
Oral appliances are often the fastest and least invasive manner to correct problems caused by TMJ disorders. If you want a treatment alternative that addresses the root of the problem, rather than masking symptoms with pain medication, contact Dr. Arellano at 415-881-4343. He will work with you to find the most appropriate treatment plan to correct your TMJ and ease your discomfort.