Believe it or not, if you suffer from jaw pain, frequent headaches, earaches, and pain in your neck, shoulders, and back, you could be dealing with what is known as temporomandibular joint disorder. Also called TMD or TMJ, this is a condition that refers to any one of multiple issues that can affect the health of your temporomandibular joints. If you are suffering from TMJ, Advanced Dental Associates is here to help.
How Do the Temporomandibular Joints Work?
The temporomandibular joints, also commonly just called the TMJ, are found on each side of your mouth. They are one of the most complex joints in your entire body, and function to help you open and close your mouth. While this might not seem like much at first glance, the ability to move your mouth is crucial for many important tasks. You need to be able to open and shut your mouth to eat, speak, swallow, yawn, and so much more. The joints work in harmony with your jawbone, in addition to muscles, ligaments, and cartilage. If something interferes with this balance, pain and difficulties arise.
How Does TMJ Happen?
There is no one singular cause of TMJ. There are many issues that can interfere with the proper movements of your joints. Common issues include bruxism, which has many of its causes, as well as facial trauma. These issues irritate the jaws. Since you cannot simply stop using your mouth, the constant movement and pressures exerted on these joints can irritate to worsen. They can also cause inflammation, significant pain, and trouble making the slightest movements.
Is TMJ Treatable at Home?
Sometimes you can treat TMJ at home. This is typically only possible with mild cases of TMJ. Jaw exercises or massage can help to loosen the muscles and joints, so they work properly. You may be able to help avoid irritating your joints by avoiding certain types of foods, such as those that are large, hard, or crunchy.
In some cases, an over the counter pain reliever can help to alleviate your discomfort. If you take pain relievers, only take them as directed on the bottle.
What Can a Dentist Do to Treat TMJ?
There are a few things that we can do to help treat TMJ. A common solution is a nighttime mouthguard. This is a device that is often recommended for those with bruxism. We create a custom oral appliance just for you to wear while you sleep. The guard works to protect your teeth, your jaws, your muscles, and your joints. Botox injections may also be helpful. These injections work by interrupting the signals that cause your muscles to clench your teeth and jaws together, preventing the action.
In cases of poor alignment, orthodontic treatment may be recommended. This may be in the form of traditional braces or Invisalign. Either way, correcting your tooth and jaw alignment can help to put a stop to the pain.
What Happens if Treatment Doesn’t Work?
More conservative treatments are typically always tried first. However, in more severe cases, such as very severe alignment issues, or if conservative treatments don’t work, surgery may be recommended. Surgery is generally saved as a last effort.
Addressing your TMJ is essential for restoring your oral health and alleviating your discomfort. For more information, and to find out just what we can do for you, call Advanced Dental Associates at (210) 714-5589 today.