Your temporomandibular joint is the joint that connects the jawbone to the skull; it dies the important work of opening and closing your jaws as you speak and eat. Many people don’t give thought to this important function until pain and irritation develop, which is a condition known as TMJ.
What is TMJ?
TMJ refers to a group of conditions related to inflammation in the jaw. These disorders can cause facial swelling, pain, tenderness, and difficulty opening and closing the jaw. Nearly 10 million Americans suffer from TMJ disorders, making it a pervasive problem needing to be addressed for those wishing to regain their quality of life.
What are some symptoms of TMJ?
Various symptoms of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) disorder occur, depending on the degree of damage and inflammation you experience. Some more common symptoms experienced by many include:
- Pain in the neck and face
- Stiffness in jaw muscles
- Limited jaw movement
- Locking of the jaw joint (lockjaw)
- Clicking or popping in the joint
- Dental issues, such as tooth grinding and damage
As symptoms set in, many people are distressed and upset at what appears to be a deteriorating condition. What are the causes of this uncomfortable disorder, and how can it be treated to provide pain-free living once more?
Causes of TMJ
TMJ disorders can develop if the disk/cartilage mechanism at the hinge of the jawbone becomes dislocated or out of proper alignment. Other issues such as damage to the jaw and arthritic conditions can cause wear and tear on the joint, making it difficult to move.
Other risk factors for the development of TMJ include:
- Development of arthritic conditions
- Long term clenching or grinding of teeth
- Connective tissue disease that destroys cartilage between joints
Talking to your dentist about diagnosis and treatment options will be an essential part of your return to health. Read on to see what treatment options exist for this type of disorder:
After your dentist has determined a formal diagnosis, the cause of your specific condition will dictate the appropriate course of treatment. Some dentists recommend home treatments such as self-care to reduce swelling and inflammation. Some of these home treatments include:
- Use of ice to reduce swelling
- Reducing jaw movement
- Avoiding tough or crunchy foods that are hard to chew
- Monitoring and reducing stress levels
- Using jaw exercises to strengthen and increase range of motion
If it is found that home therapies are not effective in reducing and eliminating pain, your dentist may prescribe medication to reduce swelling and provide relief from pain. The use of substances such as anti-inflammatories, muscle relaxants, treatments like jaw botox, and local anesthetics prove to be effective agents to relax muscles, provide relief from pain, and make the healing process more manageable.
The option of surgery
If symptoms do not improve with time and medication, your dentist may suggest surgery to improve both the look and function of your jaw. Cosmetic dentistry surgeons specialize in reconstructive surgery that fixes both function and form of the jaw, allowing you to get back to daily living.
Some of these procedures can correct alignment and bite, remove fluid and debris from your jaw joint, and even reconstruct the joint itself if it has been irreparably damaged. Talk to your dentist about the options that exist for you, and work to craft a treatment plan that works to eliminate pain and improve joint function and mobility.
The Toothbar: Providing help and healing to those with jaw pain
The Toothbar is a premiere Austin cosmetic dentist specializing in all types of dental conditions and disorders. It is our job and our passion to care for and bring health and healing to patients, providing them with healthy, vibrant smiles once more.
Contact us today to see how we can help you uncover your best and brightest smile. Call: 512-949-8202