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Try the Conservative Path to Jaw Pain Relief First

If you have chronic jaw pain, you know how difficult eating, speaking or even smiling can be. Many sufferers will do anything to gain relief, even surgery. But before you go down that road, consider the traditional conservative approach to temporomandibular disorders (TMD) management first” it could provide the most relief with the least risk of side effects.
The temporomandibular joints connect the lower jaw to the skull on either side of the head. These ball and socket joints also contain a cushioning disk to facilitate movement. This disk is believed to be the primary focus for jaw pain problems known collectively as TMD.
Doctors now believe injury, stress, metabolic issues, jaw anatomy defects or similar factors trigger the chain reaction of muscle spasms, pain and soreness that can erupt during a TMD episode. A TMD patient may experience pain within the jaw muscles or joints themselves, clicking sensations, or an inability to open the jaw to its full range.

TMD therapy has traditionally followed an orthopedic path””treating jaw joints like any other joint. In recent years, though, a more aggressive treatment model has emerged that promotes more invasive techniques like orthodontics, dental work or jaw surgery to relieve discomfort. But the track record for this model, especially concerning jaw surgery, remains hazy at best and offers no guarantee of relief. These techniques are also irreversible and have even made symptoms worse in some patients.

It’s usually prudent, then, to try conservative treatments first. This can include pain and muscle relaxant medication, jaw exercises, stretching and massage, and dietary changes to reduce chewing force. Patients with teeth grinding habits may also benefit from a bite guard worn at night to reduce the biting force during sleep and help the joints relax.

By finding the right mix of treatments, you may be able to find significant relief from TMD symptoms with the conservative approach. If not, you might then discuss more invasive options with your dentist. But even if your dentist recommends such a procedure, you would be wise to seek a second opinion.

TMD can definitely interfere with your quality of life and peace of mind. But there are ways to reduce its effects and make for a happier life.

If you would like more information on managing chronic jaw pain, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Seeking Relief from TMD.”

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Dental Arts Studio of Cape Cod

North Eastham, MA
55 Oak Road North Eastham, MA 02651

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West Harwich, MA
129 MA-28, WEST HARWICH, MA 02671

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Monday – Friday: 8:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday – Sunday: On-call emergencies

Dmitry L.
Highly recommend Dr.Pokrovskaya. She is always on time, professional and knowledgable. Doctor Pokrovskaya uses the latest techniques and equipment. Very easy to locate, convenient hours.
Al S.
Hands-down the best Dentist on Cape Cod! When I called on a Friday afternoon just before they closed they accepted us as a new patient with one of my children who had an emergency. Her staff was very kind and considerate Dr. Nadia went above and beyond to make my child feel comfortable. She took her time to explain everything to her mother and I. I would unequivocably recommend her practice!
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Not only is Dr. Pokrovskaya brilliant, but she is caring and gentle. After talking to her about my dental concerns I am confident in placing my trust in her expertise and skill. She takes the time to really consider what is right for you in your unique situation. She has so many skills that she can include in her assessment of what is needed and that makes her a top notch professional.
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