TMJ stands for Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome. It is a fairly common problem that people face with the joint that connects the jaw to the cheekbone. If you have been recently diagnosed with TMJ, it can be overwhelming to learn more about the condition. Here is a simplified overview of everything that you need to know about TMJ.
Two Temporomandibular Joints
You have two temporomandibular joints, as you have one on each side. It is possible to experience pain in just one or both of the joints at the same time. If you experience pain in one joint, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will ever experience pain in the other.
If you have TMJ, you might experience soreness or pain in your jaw, mouth pain, tightness in your face, and headaches. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, you might experience difficulty or pain when chewing food, lockjaw, or popping noise that you can hear when you open and close your mouth. Since the jawbone and ears are so connected, it is possible that you will experience some symptoms in your ears. This includes ringing, ear pain, and eye pain.
There are many different causes of TMJ. Multiple conditions can be contributing to your TMJ symptoms. This includes tooth misalignment, jaw injuries, genetics, arthritis, and bad posture. Stress can contribute to your TMJ symptoms, especially when teeth grinding or jaw clenching is present. Your dentist will complete a thorough assessment to see what is causing your TMJ and find the appropriate solutions.
For TMJ pain relief, it is important to seek out the advice of a dental professional who will be able to evaluate your condition. Taking over the counter pain relievers often isn’t enough to manage the chronic pain associated with TMJ. Your dentist may recommend the use of a custom dental appliance to help reduce the strain on the joint and eliminate the symptoms. Botox and steroid injections can also be used to manage pain and discomfort.
Depending on what solutions you’ve tried and the severity of the symptoms, your dentist might recommend other types of treatment. Working with a physical therapist can work to reduce the pain and improve function for the temporomandibular joint. They may recommend to use compresses to help.
In addition, some TMJ cases require surgery to treat. Often surgery is only recommended as a last result. An arthrotomy is an open joint surgery. A modified condylotomy is a type of controlled fracture that can help restore normal disk position and immediately stop pain.
For the best Savannah TMJ treatment, it is best to work with a dentist that specializes in TMJ. They will have the best understanding of the condition and know about the most innovative treatment opportunities for the condition. For some patients, managing TMJ symptoms is a chronic situation. However, for others, stress and recent injury can cause the condition to become symptomatic.
Ready to Get Started?
If you are looking for TMJ pain relief, contact Savannah Dental Solutions today at (912) 354-1366. Our friendly, knowledgeable staff will guide you through the process of diagnosing and managing the symptoms of TMJ.
If you are experiencing sensitive or unusually worn teeth, a popping or clicking jaw, or unexplained pain such as headaches and earaches, you might be suffering from TMJ, or temporomandibular joint disease. This is a serious and often progressive disease which, over time, can cause permanent damage to your jaw joint and the supporting structures. Fortunately, with proper diagnosis and treatment, TMJ can be halted or even reversed.
What Causes TMJ?
The complex temporomandibular joint normally operates like a sliding hinge between the skull and the jawbone. Cartilage and discs cushion and protect the joint, allowing smooth and pain-free movement. In TMJ, however, this joint becomes misaligned.
TMJ sometimes appears after an impact to the jaw. Hormonal fluctuations may be responsible for some cases, as it is most frequently diagnosed in women between 20 and 40 years of age. For most of the 35 million sufferers in the United States, however, the root cause of TMJ remains a mystery.
Stress is often implicated as a cause, likely because those with anxiety are more likely to grind the teeth or clench the jaw. However, in most cases of TMJ, an actual structural misalignment of the teeth is found. If the teeth do not come together properly, chewing will pull the jaw out of alignment to create a more balanced bite. This puts intense pressure on the joint capsule and surrounding muscles, leading to the characteristic pops, clicks, and pain that are hallmarks of TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ
Every case of TMJ is unique, and everyone’s subjective experience is different. Still, most people with TMJ experience at least a few of these common symptoms:
- – Jaw pain or tenderness
- – Earaches
- – Headaches
- – Facial pain
- – Painful or difficult chewing
- – Clicking, popping, or grating sounds when moving the jaw
- – Joint lockup, making it difficult to fully open or close the mouth
TMJ Treatment Options
The goal for TMJ treatment is to relax the jaw by ensuring that the bite is in harmony with both itself and the joint. This allows you to use your mouth normally, eliminates pain, and stops the progression of the disease.
Because everyone is different, there is no single right way to accomplish this goal. Depending on your individual needs, your dentist might select one or more of the following treatments:
- – Medication
- – Bite splint or orthotic
- – Physical therapy
- – Equilibration and functional reconstruction
Other specialized treatments are also available. Your dentist will perform a thorough examination and go over the results with you in detail. The treatment process often takes several appointments to complete, and is individualized based on your symptoms, their severity, and the complexity of the underlying issues.
In most cases, a TMJ treatment plan will include both in-office and home treatment procedures. In mild cases, home remedies may be all that is required. Your dentist will give you a specific home care plan based on the results of your examination, but here are a few common suggestions:
- – Soft foods: While the goal of treatment is to return your jaw to full use, eating certain foods can worsen the pain during the healing process. Choose soft, easy to chew foods such as fish, scrambled eggs, yogurt, and well-cooked vegetables. Cut other foods into small bites, and skip hard or sticky foods for a while.
- – Ice packs: Ice can help to ease pain. Ask your dentist to explain exactly when and for how long you apply each ice treatment.
- – Intentional relaxation: Stress can lead to clenching and jaw tension, so build relaxation breaks into your day. Consciously hold your teeth slightly apart, placing your tongue between them if needed. Minimize large mouth movements such as yelling or singing.
- – Avoid chewing gum or ice: The process of chewing can cause TMJ pain, so eliminate all unnecessary forms of chewing while you heal.
- – Over the counter pain medications: Check with your dentist to make sure you do not have contraindications based on your current medications or health status. For most people, however, over the counter medications can bring temporary pain relief. If these do not work for you, ask your dentist to prescribe something a bit stronger.
TMJ is a complex and highly personalized disorder that generally gets worse over time. With proper diagnosis and treatment, however, it is possible to stop and even reverse the disease. Your dentist will draw up an individualized treatment plan based on your symptoms and the severity of your condition.
Married dentists Chad and Alexandra Schnabel welcome you to Savannah Dental Solutions. From caring children’s dentistry to high-tech cosmetic procedures and even full-mouth reconstruction, we blend the latest technology with traditional customer-oriented values. To start your journey to better oral health, call us today at (912) 354-1366.