Prepare For Your Dental Visit When You Have TMD
If you have jaw pain from Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMD), you likely have anxiety about your dental appointments, or perhaps you even avoid them all together.Many of my clients report on their intake form that a visit to the dentist is a triggering event that is a sure fire way to flare up their TMJ symptoms like pain, joint noise and restriction.
I hit up my colleague Cara Baines, RDH & Orofacial Myofunctional Therapist owner of Aspect Hygiene, for some tips to help prep you for your next dental appointment.
TOP TIPS FOR A PAIN FREE DENTAL VISIT
ASK TO SPLIT UP APPOINTMENTS
When scheduling your appointment, inform them you have jaw pain and ask if they can split up your procedure into shorter, more frequent appointments. For example, two sessions to complete a full mouth cleaning. Or ask if they can allot extra time for your appointment so you can take breaks. There would most likely be an additional charge for the time, so make sure to clarify.
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
Tell your provider about your difficulty maintaining an open mouth position for long periods. They may not inquire if you have TMD, or assess for muscle tension. Once inside your mouth, they are often super laser focused on completing their work. Tell them in advance that you may need a few breaks during the procedure.
ASK FOR A BITE BLOCK
This is a small rubber block that is placed between your teeth while the work is being done. It doesn’t force your jaw open but allows it to stay open without jaw muscle exhaustion. The blocks are typically used during restorative work but could be used for portions of the cleaning procedure. Unfortunately, this isn’t the answer for everyone (but I can say that it has helped me).
STRETCH & MASSAGE YOUR JAW MUSCLES
A week prior to your dental visit, it is a good idea to stretch your jaw muscles to prepare them for lengthening and help alleviate tension. Recommended stretching is 3x daily and holding for 15-45sec. Here is a link to some helpful stretches.
Directly before & after your appointment, it can be helpful and relieving to apply some self massage to the muscles of the jaw. Here is a link to some great instruction videos. Or if you want to leave it to me, you can schedule a massage appointment for your pre/post dental visit here.
APPLY HEAT COMPRESS
Directly before and after your appointment, apply a heat compress to your jaw muscles to help relax and soothe. (Aspect Hygiene has this as part of their comfort menu).
ICE FOR PAIN RELIEF
If you are experiencing some discomfort or pain in your jaw, ice the joint after your treatment. I recommend 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off and repeat that process 3x. This helps reduce pain and inflammation.
About Cara Baines, RDH:
Cara has been a dental professional since 2012, and has been an independent Dental Hygienist since 2013. She owns and operates her own clinic, Aspect Hygiene, here in Owen Sound. For more information about Cara and her services visit www.aspecthygiene.ca.
If you would like some help managing, or reducing your TMD symptoms,
Call 226-493-1507 to schedule your Initial Assessment & Treatment.