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Posted on: March 3, 2023
TMJ Disorder: A Common Condition
If you’re experiencing problems with your lower jaw, you’re not alone. You may have a common condition called temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). It involves pain in the temporomandibular joint, which is between the skull and the jawbone. This joint is what makes it possible for you to open and close your mouth. Without it, you’d have a hard time eating, singing or speaking. Your dentist in Fairfax Corner would like you to learn about this condition so that you can be on the lookout for its most common signs. They include jaw aches and pains in the jaw. In some cases, patients even have a hard time opening or closing their mouths because of TMJ troubles.
TMJ disorder happens when there’s jaw misalignment or damage, but a number of different factors can contribute to the situation. Your dentist may find one or more causes for your condition. Possible explanations include injury, jaw clenching, prolonged stress, arthritis, inherited traits, or teeth grinding, which is also known as bruxism. Often, several of these factors interact to produce TMJ symptoms.
Symptoms That Indicate TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorders can present a variety of troublesome symptoms that affect your mouth, head and neck. See your dentist in Fairfax Corner if you are experiencing signs of a TMJ disorder, such as:
- Pain or other unpleasant sensations in your jaw or the surrounding area — perhaps even in your neck or shoulders
- Stiffness in your jaw that makes it hard to open and close your mouth
- Clicks, pops or other abnormal noises when opening your mouth
- Being unable to open your mouth wide
- Inability to bite or chew without pain or sensitivity
- Tinnitus, often referred to as ringing in the ears
- Aches and pains in your head
To learn whether you have TMJ problems, set up an appointment with your dentist in Fairfax Corner for an examination of your jaw and the nearby muscles. You can talk to the dentist about your symptoms and your medical history. There may be X-rays taken during the dental visit as well.
How to Treat TMJ Disorders
If you receive a TMJ disorder diagnosis during your dental appointment, the next step will be to discuss treatment options. There is a multitude of techniques that dentists can use for addressing TMJ disorders. The options include both surgical and non-surgical approaches. The best ones for a patient’s situation will depend on what’s causing the disorder and how severe of a case it is. Dentists often start with non-surgical treatments, such as suggesting lifestyle changes that can help relieve a patient’s symptoms. Physical therapy and medication can also be effective non-surgical options. With a comprehensive treatment plan in place, you may discover that your jaw function is restored and your pain is alleviated.
Non-surgical Options for Treating TMJ Disorders
If non-surgical treatment is a priority for you, talk to your dentist about whether you’re a good candidate for physical therapy. You might be able to increase your jaw mobility and strengthen your jaw muscles if you go to therapy sessions. Taking medicine could help as well. Anti-inflammatories are often recommended because they can help with the pain and swelling associated with TMJ disorders.
To help you manage the pain and discomfort of a TMJ disorder, try these lifestyle changes:
- Opting not to eat hard or crunchy foods that need a lot of chewing
- Breaking your habit of chewing on non-food items like fingernails, pens, or bottle caps
- Taking care not to overextend your jaw when yawning, shouting, or singing
- Practicing yoga, meditation, and other relaxing activities
TMJ Disorder Treatment at the Dentist
Your dentist can help with TMJ problems in other ways as well. If it’s a good fit for your particular case, you may be advised to start wearing an oral splint. That’s a removable device that you can place over some of your teeth. It may serve a few different purposes, including supporting your temporomandibular joints, guiding the alignment of your bite, and making it harder to clench your jaw. You might also need to see an orthodontist for braces or other appliances that can realign your jaw and improve your bite.
In addition, there are surgical procedures available for treating TMJ disorders. They’re typically used only in severe cases that haven’t fully responded to other treatments. Minimally invasive procedures may focus on draining fluid or removing scar tissue. The most involved procedure takes out your jaw joints and replaces them with artificial versions.
Don’t hesitate to talk to your dentist in Fairfax Corner about any TMJ symptoms that you are experiencing. Dentists are the best source of information on TMJ disorders. They can conduct exams, perform diagnoses, and craft personalized treatment plans. With professional treatment, you can remedy your symptoms and regain your normal jaw function. Your dentist would prefer to start helping you before your condition worsens further.
TMJ disorders are widespread conditions that affect the lives of many people. It can be caused by a variety of factors in your life, including your genetics, your overall oral health, your daily habits, and any injuries you may have experienced. The condition can make it hard to open and close your mouth without a lot of pain or stiffness. It can also cause aches, swelling, and a ringing sound in your ears.
There are steps you can take to address a TMJ problem. One of the first things to do is to visit your dentist in Fairfax Corner. The dentist can help with any TMJ disorder symptoms you are experiencing and support your overall dental health as well. You’ll appreciate being able to get an official diagnosis and a professional treatment plan from your dentist. To schedule your visit to discuss any oral health needs, please call our office to speak with our friendly staff today.