Temporomandibular Joint and Muscle disorder, commonly referred to as TMJ or TMD, is one of the most commonly recognized conditions that affects the jaw joint and surrounding muscles that control jaw movement. Millions of Americans suffer from this disorder and experience pain in the area of the joints and find it difficult to move their jaws.Est. 10 million people suffer from #TMJ. Get help at #Heroes #Dental in the #RGV. Click To Tweet
While the condition does not always signal a serious problem for most people, the pain can still be debilitating for weeks on end, and usually occurs in cycles. Unfortunately for others, if left untreated, TMJ can develop into significant, long-term problems.
Your team at Heroes Dental can help you if you’ve been suffering through TMJ. Our dentists and staff are well trained in dealing with oral health conditions and can provide services in general dentistry, cosmetic dentistry, orthodontics, and pediatric dentistry.
What are some of the symptoms of TMJ?
While the progression of jaw and chew muscle disorder is not fully understand, doctors generally consider TMJ to be associated with a number of other health conditions, including:
- Myofascial pain
- Internal injury to the joint
- Bruxism (grinding of the teeth)
- Malocclusion (misalignment of the jaw)
- Prognathism (protruding jaw)
- Hyperactive jaw muscles
Individuals may suffer from a number of these conditions that essentially worsen TMJ.
There are a variety of symptoms and signs that suggest one may be suffering from TMJ disorder. The primary symptom is going to be pain, especially in the area of the muscles and jaw joint. Other signs include:
- Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
- Stiffness in the jaw muscles
- Locking of the jaw or inability to fully open the mouth
- Painful clicking, popping, or grinding in the jaw joint when opening and closing the mouth
What are some of the available treatments for TMJ?
As the medical understanding of jaw joint and muscle disorders continues to improve, new methods to correct the condition continue to emerge. However, dentists still generally recommend conservative, non-invasive treatments first. Even in cases of persistent TMJ disorder, most patients do not require surgery or any other type of aggressive treatment.
Because TMJ tends to be a temporary issue for most patients, there are a number of simple treatments that can relieve your pain, including:
- Self-care practices: Individuals suffering from TMJ should consider eating soft foods, applying ice packs, avoiding extreme jaw movements, learning exercises that can help to gently increase jaw movements, and how to softly massage their area to relieve tension.
- Pain medication: Over-the-counter medications are usually sufficient enough to provide temporary relief from the pain associated with TMJ. Ibuprofen or aspirin can be effective, but in cases of severe pain, your dentist may recommend anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants.
- Mouthguard (stabilization splints): The mouthguards used for treating TMJ disorder function differently than those utilized strictly for bruxism. These mouthguards are made of rigid material that help to raise your bite and reposition the jaw to alleviate discomfort. Due to the precise nature of a TMJ splint, your dentist may need to readjust multiple times to get the perfect position for your optimum comfort.
What kind of mouthguard is best for me?
The type of mouthguard you will need is determined by the issues that are causing your TMJ. Our specially trained dentists and orthodontists at Heroes Dental can help to assess the issues and recommend a mouthguard that is best suited to treat your specific condition.
It is highly recommended that you DO NOT purchase a mouthguard online! Always get professional input first.
There are a number of different options and types of mouthguards (splints) that are available to treat TMJ disorder, but they generally work in two different ways:
- Stabilization splints: These are used to inhibit clenching and teeth grinding (bruxism). They are flat, cover all the teeth, and can help reduce jaw pain caused by the overuse of your jaw muscles.
- Repositioning splints: These types of mouthguards are usually worn 24-hours a day to begin with, until the pain subsides and a long-term plan is devised. These devices pull the mandible (lower jaw) forward to reposition the jaw, which can help to reduce jaw popping and clicking.
Don’t let TMJ stop you from smiling! Heroes Dental can help you return to shining those pearly whites.
Pain can make life intolerable and keep that beautiful smile covered behind a frown of hurt. Don’t let TMJ bother you any longer.