How Do Dentists Treat TMJ?
What Is TMJ?
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder (TMJ) is a condition that affects the jaw joint and the muscles used for chewing.
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jawbone (mandible) to the skull in front of the ear. It allows the jaw to move up and down, side to side, and back and forth. TMJ disorder occurs when there is a problem with the joint or the surrounding muscles.
What Causes TMJ?
Some common causes of TMJ disorder include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching – is also called bruxism. It puts excessive pressure on the jaw joint, which can cause TMJ disorder.
- Arthritis – it can damage the joint and cause pain and inflammation.
- Injury or trauma to the jaw joint or muscles – a blow to the jaw or a whiplash injury can damage the joint or muscles and lead to TMJ disorder.
- Misaligned teeth or bite problems – misaligned teeth can affect how the jaw works and pressures the joint and muscles.
- Stress and tension in the jaw muscles – can cause muscle spasms in the jaw, leading to TMJ disorder.
- Degenerative joint disease – can cause the joint to wear down and result in TMJ disorder.
- Other medical conditions, such as fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome, can cause TMJ disorder.
Sometimes the cause of TMJ disorder is unclear, and it may be a combination of different factors. Therefore, see a dentist for TMJ disorder treatment to diagnose and treat the condition.
Common Signs of TMJ
Some of the symptoms to let you know you need TMJ treatment in Danbury, CT, include:
- Pain or discomfort in the jaw joint, face, neck, or shoulders, particularly when eating or speaking
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty opening or closing the mouth
- Locking of the jaw joint – makes it difficult to open or close the mouth
- Headaches or migraines, particularly in the temples
- Earaches or ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Facial swelling or sensitivity
- Teeth sensitivity
- Loose teeth
- Pain in the neck and shoulders
- Dizziness or vertigo
However, note that some of these symptoms may also be associated with other medical conditions. Therefore, consult with a dentist near you or doctor for a proper diagnosis. Further, early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the condition from worsening and improve your quality of life.
Can Dentists Treat TMJ?
Danbury Smiles – George Landress, DDS, MAGD dentists can diagnose and treat various dental conditions, including TMJ.
The first step in treating TMJ is to diagnose the disorder’s underlying cause. Dentists can thoroughly examine the jaw joint, muscles, and teeth to determine the cause of the problem. They may also take x-rays, CT scans, or MRI scans to get a better look at the joint.
Once the cause of the TMJ disorder is clear, the dentist will recommend appropriate treatment options. Treatment may include a combination of techniques such as:
- Medications to relieve pain and inflammation
- Mouth guards or splints to help prevent teeth grinding and clenching
- Physical therapy to help relieve muscle tension and improve range of motion
- Relaxation techniques to reduce stress and tension in the jaw muscles
- Dental procedures to correct problems with the bite, such as crowns, bridges, or braces
- Surgery and injections to address severe cases of TMJ
Still, note that not all dentists treat TMJ. Therefore, find a dentist or TMJ specialist in Danbury, CT, with experience treating this condition.
Tips for Preventing TMJ
There are several tips for preventing TMJ disorder or reducing the frequency and severity of its symptoms:
- Practice good posture – poor posture can put unnecessary stress on your jaw, especially when sleeping.
- Reduce stress – it can cause muscle tension in the jaw. To reduce stress, practice relaxation techniques like deep breathing, yoga, or meditation.
- Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth – if you’re prone to grinding teeth at night, a nightguard can help protect your teeth and reduce the strain on the jaw.
- Avoid unnecessary jaw movement, such as biting your nails, clenching your teeth, chewing gum, or resting your chin in your hand.
- Practice good oral hygiene – oral infections or cavities can cause pain and inflammation in the jaw joint.
- Avoid hard or chewy foods that stress the jaw joint and exacerbate TMJ disorder symptoms. Choose soft foods that require less chewing instead.