What is TMJ?
People who grind their teeth can sometimes develop a serious problem with their jaw. When jaw conditions are left untreated, they can adversely affect the teeth, gums, and bone structures of the mouth.
One of the most common jaw disorders is related to the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects your lower jaw to your skull. It allows your upper and lower jaw to open and close and facilitates chewing and speaking.
What are Common Symptoms of TMJ?
People with temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ disorders, sometimes called temporomandibular disorders (TMD)) often have a clicking or popping sound when opening and closing their mouths. Other TMJ symptoms include:
- Jaw pain
- Frequent headaches
- Neck aches
- Tooth sensitivity
- Chronic pain
- Muscle tension
How is TMJ Diagnosed?
Although there is no specific test to diagnose TMJ, if you suspect you may be experiencing it, you should consult with a healthcare professional. A doctor can often diagnose TMJ by doing a physical exam and referencing the patient’s medical history.
"A doctor may send the patient to an oral and maxillofacial specialist, an otolaryngologist (also called an ear, nose, and throat doctor or ENT specialist), or a dentist specializing in jaw disorders to confirm the diagnosis. Sometimes a health care professional may order an MRI of the temporomandibular joint to detect damage to the cartilage of the jaw joint and to rule out other medical problems." - medicinenet.com
How to Treat TMJ
Although some home remedies such as ice packs being applied to the joint, avoiding chewing gum, and gentle stretches may be effective, in some cases dental treatment is required. Common treatments for TMJ include:
- Muscle relaxants
- Wearing a small plastic appliance in the mouth during sleep
- And more
Minor cases of TMJ involve pain and discomfort in the jaw muscles. More serious conditions involve improperly aligned joints or dislocated jaws. The most extreme form of TMJ involves an arthritic condition of the jaw joint. Traumatic injuries can also cause jaw dislocation, resulting in temporomandibular joint disorder.
In these cases, corrective jaw surgery may be required to improve the condition. Some jaw surgery can be performed arthroscopically.
If you have recently received a TMJ diagnosis and are looking to relieve TMJ pain, our team at Ames Family Dental is here to help. Learn more about our providers.