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The True Culprit of TMJ/TMD Pain: Lactic Acid

Posted by Hyungsup Lee Jul 10, 2020

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The pain caused by TMD is almost always due to the overworking of the jaw muscles,  which causes a build-up of lactic acid. If this term sounds familiar, that is because it is what makes muscles sore and stiff after any rigorous exercise. Of course, most TMD patients do not experience pain only in their jaw, but often their head, neck, and ears as well.

Is this due to lactic acid as well? Why does the body produce a substance that causes serious discomfort? Can TMJ treatment in Portland prevent it? We answer these questions and more in today’s blog.

Lactic Acid: The Basics

Every muscle in your body needs energy to move, and primarily, it comes from glucose, or sugar. The end product of cell activity is lactic acid, which is normally removed by the bloodstream.  But when more of this is produced than can be effectively removed, it accumulates in the muscle, and causes the muscle to become sore, painful, and ache.

The Relationship Between Lactic Acid & TMJ/TMD

For a patient with TMD, the jaw muscles are constantly trying to force their teeth into alignment while they chew and bite, which requires a lot of effort. As a consequence, the muscles overwork. So, they start producing lactate for energy, and this leads to lactic acid, causing pain.

The muscles that control the TMJ overlay the joints and extend toward the temples, allowing the pain to spread until everything near the jaw hurts. This is why, in many cases, TMD not only affects the jaw, but the head, neck, and ears as well. The muscle fatigue impacts the entire area, and it is all ultimately due to lactic acid brought on by overexertion.

How DTR Therapy Can Prevent Lactic Acid Buildup

The key to preventing lactic acid from accumulating in the jaw muscles is to stop them from overworking, which is the exact goal of DTR (Disclusion Time Reduction). This treatment involves taking extremely precise, computerized measurements of the bite to determine how the jaw muscles activate (or in most cases, over-activate) when the teeth touch. Using this information, the teeth can be slightly modified so that when they come together, the muscles remain calm and relaxed. This means they will not strain themselves, which prevents the production of lactic acid and stops the pain before it even starts!

​If your jaw is constantly sore or you frequently experience migraines and headaches related to TMD, the culprit is almost always lactic acid. Thankfully, DTR is able to help, allowing a patient to live pain-free and comfortably.

About the Author

Dr. Russ Teasdale has been practicing since 1981, and he is the only TMJ dentist in Portland certified to provide DTR therapy. He uses the latest technology and techniques to help his patients’ bites function optimally so they can enjoy both healthy and attractive smiles. To learn more about DTR and how it can dramatically relieve your TMD pain, contact Advanced Dental Arts NW today to schedule an appointment.

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