More commonly referred to as TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint Dysfunction is a common condition that affects an estimated ten million Americans. The temporomandibular joint is the joint that allows the jaw to move. Dysfunction in this joint can affect facial nerves and cause excruciating headaches, jaw pain, teeth grinding, and even ringing in the ears. Many TMJ sufferers have trouble getting to the bottom of their symptoms, and may be unaware that the condition can be treated.
Symptoms of TMJ can be severe and can impair everyday activities. When treating TMJ, dentists are focused on maximizing the patient’s comfort and well-being. If you have experienced problems around your jaw, your dentist can test for the condition and develop a treatment plan to address the causes and reduce pain.
Many TMJ sufferers report a worsening of symptoms during or after periods of stress. When symptoms are especially intense, they may include neck pain, dizziness, or other symptoms.
One of the most common causes of TMJ is misaligned teeth. In most cases, teeth can be realigned without surgery, and can ease headache pain, jaw pain, and other symptoms.
TMJ frequently causes teeth grinding, especially during sleep. Grinding can erode tooth structure, leading to serious dental problems. When TMJ goes untreated and grinding continues, the jawbone can erode, leading to loose teeth. For these reasons proper diagnosis and treatment are critical.
Bite misalignment is one of the most common causes of TMJ, but injury caused by trauma to the cartilage can also cause TMJ. Treating TMJ begins with a thorough examination of the jaw, joint movement, bite, and x-rays, along with a review of the patient’s medical history.
Once TMJ is diagnosed, there are a variety of possible treatment options. A bite guard can protect the teeth from teeth grinding. Relaxation techniques may be recommended to ease physical symptoms associated with psychological and emotional stress. In severe cases, muscle relaxants can relax the muscles around the jaw.
The dentist may analyze the bite relationship and correct issues with bite through a process known as realignment. Realignment can have the added benefit of improving the appearance of the teeth. Realignments changes the way the upper and lower teeth meet when biting. The process may require restoration and changes to healthy teeth, but is not painful and has a good success rate.
If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of TMJ, give us a call today to schedule an appointment. Be sure to mention that you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ and would like a consultation.
If you have questions about TMJ treatment, or would like to set up an appointment, call Dr. Woods at (619) 640-5100.