WHAT IS TMJ & HOW CAN A DENTIST HELP?
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45869 New Bremen, OH, US
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What Is TMJ
The temporomandibular joints are located on either side of your head, connecting your jaw to your skull. They enable you to open & close your mouth, chew, & speak. These joints are some of the most complex in your entire body since they can move in multiple directions. Any problems with these joints are also referred to as TMJ disorder, or simply TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ
Signs of TMJ can include:
- Jaw clicking, popping, or locking
- Earaches or headaches
- Discomfort when mouth is opened widely
- Tenderness of jaw muscles
The cause of your TMJ can determine which or how many of these signs you have. At many oral examinations, your dentist or dental hygienist will look for inflammation in your jaw muscles to see if TMJ may be present.
Causes of TMJ
TMJ does not necessarily have an apparent cause, however there are a couple of possibilities for the origins of a TMJ issue:
- Injury or dislocation
- Teeth clenching (often from tension & stress)
- Poor tooth/jaw alignment
How Can a Dentist Help?
While some may think of general dental practitioners as simply teeth doctors, we handle so much more including the entire mouth and how it fits into your overall health. Included in that is your temporomandibular joint, which we can evaluate and diagnose your TMJ condition.
Because TMJ can be triggered by tooth & jaw positioning issues, there are dental treatments that can help. Depending on the case, you may be referred to an orthodontist for treatments like braces, which can help realign the teeth and jaws so that your mouth can close in the correct position. Treatment by an orthodontist can reduce TMJ symptoms in many cases.
Other treatments for TMJ include utilizing cold and hot packs, taking prescriptions like anti-inflammatory or muscle relaxing medications, or learning relaxation techniques to minimize stress in your jaw muscles. In some rare cases, TMJ could need jaw surgery to fix.
In some cases you may be advised to wear a custom-made oral device, typically if your TMJ comes from teeth clenching or grinding. Called a bite plate or a splint, this device will keep your upper teeth from grinding against your lower teeth. In addition to easing TMJ symptoms, a bite guard will prevent wearing down of your teeth from grinding, which can cause even more dental issues.
Please speak with our dental team today if you are concerned that you may have symptoms of TMJ. We can help you get relief from pain as soon as possible!