The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) enables the movement of the lower jaw, which is essential for eating and speaking. Certain health conditions, such as jaw misalignment or jaw injury, can cause TMJ disorder. When using the jaw becomes difficult and painful, a visit to the dentist is necessary for diagnosis and treatment.
The causes and symptoms of TMJ disorder
The TMJ is complex, and the cause of a disorder is sometimes hard to determine. Some of the potential causes include genetic factors, stress, injury, arthritis, tooth misalignment and teeth grinding (bruxism). Patients dealing with TMJ disorder may experience jaw ache, headache, tooth pain and popping or clicking in the jaw. These symptoms can affect the patient’s quality of life, as they can make regular activities like eating and speaking difficult, as well as interfere with sleep.
TMJ disorder causes the patient to experience pain when opening their jaws. During a consultation, the dentist will assess the patient’s range of jaw motion. They may also take X-rays or other imaging to discover the severity of the problem. After making a diagnosis, the dental professional can recommend effective treatment options to relieve the symptoms.
Treating TMJ disorders
Most patients with TMJ disorder can get relief without undergoing surgery. If misaligned teeth are the cause of the jaw disorder, the dentist might recommend teeth straightening treatment. If this is not the case, they may offer other effective, non-surgical treatments, which may include any of the following.
Oral appliances: these devices work to correct jaw misalignment, reduce tension in jaw muscles and stop teeth grinding. This option is non-invasive and affordable for patients with TMJ disorder. To begin treatment, the dentist will take impressions of the patient’s smile, which will be used to produce a custom device that fits inside the mouth. The device will be ready after a few weeks.
The patient will wear the device before bedtime—it will reposition the jaw into correct alignment and protect teeth from the detrimental effects of grinding and clenching. Oral appliances ultimately alleviate jaw pain and improve jaw function.
Physical therapy: the dentist may recommend physical therapy to restore normal jaw motion and reduce pain. Based on the patient’s condition, the options may include posture education, manual therapy and a series of exercises to stretch the jaw and make the joints more flexible. Therapy often strengthens the jaw muscles and breaks scar tissues that sometimes occurs due to constant injury.
Dental Botox®: although Botox is associated with cosmetic procedures, it may also be effective for treating TMJ disorder. Sometimes, tension in the jaw muscles can cause TMJ disorder. Injecting Botox directly into the muscles can relieve the tension. The procedure is simple and takes only a few minutes to complete.
Most patients get relief from TMJ disorder through non-surgical procedures. However, if these options are not effective for your condition, the dentist may suggest surgery as a last resort. If you have been dealing with constant jaw pain, you should book an appointment with the general dentist for an examination, diagnosis and treatment.
Check out what others are saying about our services on Yelp: Read our Yelp reviews.