TMJ is an acronym for temporomandibular joint, and is the name given to the joint of the jaw which connects to the skull. Sometimes the joint can become painful, which is commonly referred to as TMJ disorder.
There are several symptoms of TMJ disorder, including:
- chronic headaches
- a clicking, popping or grinding jaw
- pain in the muscles of the head, face, jaws or neck
- a change in the patient’s bite
- crooked smile/jaw
- abnormal wear and tear to the patient’s teeth
A dentist can usually spot the signs of TMJ disorder and there are some options to treat the condition. If you’re a sufferer of any of the above symptoms, be assured that you’re just one of around 10 million Americans who also suffer from TMJ at any given time.
The temporomandibular joint consists of two small joints, one on the skull – the temporal bone – and one on the jawbone called the mandible. The purpose of the joint is to ensure the jaw operates in a smooth, pain-free motion, however, it is extremely sensitive and can easily become misaligned, while surrounding muscles can suffer trauma causing a host of problems throughout the body. Indeed, TMJ disorder can affect several parts of the body, not just the head area.
A patient, through discussion with a dentist, has several options to help treat the problem of TMJ disorder, including:
- Anti-inflammatories, such as ibuprofen to ease the pain of TMJ and tackle any inflammation of the muscles around the joint
- Warm compresses, which help ease and loosen the muscles
- TMJ exercises, which help keep the muscles around the joint active
- Dietary changes, such as switching to soft foods and so relieving bite pressure
- TMJ mouthguards, which are specially crafted to fit the patient’s jaw helping to reduce the strain on the muscles surrounding the joint, giving them a chance to heal
Mouthguards to treat TMJ may also be known as bite-plates or splints and is a plastic guard that fits over the upper and lower teeth, and is typically worn at night. The purpose of the guard is to reduce the pressure exerted on the jaw through clenching or teeth grinding and helps alleviate tension on the muscles surrounding the jaw.
If the patient still experiences pain from TMJ disorder, there are surgical procedures which can help, and these can be discussed with a dentist.
However, for many patients who suffer, a combination of self-help therapies, such as anti-inflammatories and exercises, and a custom TMJ mouthguard, should see many patients experience relief from TMJ disorder.
If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ disorder, contact Broadway Dental, serving Westbury and the surrounding areas, at 516-681-2525 to schedule your consultation.