TMJ can interfere with daily life and make it more challenging to focus, sleep, eat, and even speak. You might feel sore around the jaw and cheek, hear popping or clicking noises, or experience locking when opening and closing your mouth. The good news is you can treat it. Here’s everything you need to know about TMJ dysfunction and how you can treat it with your dentist.
What is TMJ?
The temporomandibular joint is located in front of the ears on both sides of the jawbone. They allow for control over the lower jaw and are used throughout the day. They are also some of the most complex joints in the body and are located near sensitive muscles, tissues, and nerves.
A TMJ disorder indicates a dysfunction in the joint, meaning that it isn’t working properly. Because of their location and high use in situations where we are chewing or speaking, the disorder can present a variety of symptoms. To those unfamiliar with TMJ dysfunction and its symptoms, it can easily be confused for other conditions.
Although medical professionals can quickly diagnose TMJ disorder, determining its exact cause may not always be possible. Potential causes for TMJ range from genetics, injury, repetitive stress, teeth grinding (bruxism), and arthritis.
Diagnosing temporomandibular joint dysfunction
Even if you show the classic symptoms of TMJ, like jaw pain or clicking noises, you should see your dentist for an accurate diagnosis because symptoms can easily be confused with many other conditions. Your dentist will begin by asking you about your symptoms and when you started feeling them. If they suspect you may have TMJ, they can make a diagnosis using an x-ray, arthroscopy, MRI, or CT scan for a closer look at your joints.
TMJ treatment options
Once your dentist makes a TMJ diagnosis, they will recommend a course of treatment according to the severity of your symptoms and their exam results. In most cases, patients can manage their TMJ disorder through non-surgical treatments.
Nighttime guard or splint:
Night guards can protect your teeth from grinding, clenching, and help keep your jaw muscles relaxed even when you’re not wearing them.
Uneven bites, crooked teeth, and various other dental conditions can cause dysf temporomandibular joint dysfunction. Treating underlying dental conditions can provide long-lasting relief from TMJ.
Your dentist may prescribe pain relievers, muscle relaxants, and antidepressants.ç
Stress management and therapy:
When chronic stress plays a role in your TMJ dysfunction, your dentist may recommend seeing a therapist or practicing stress-relieving exercises at home.
If non-invasive treatment options aren’t effective in relieving your TMJ symptoms, surgery may be considered. Many surgeries can help treat TMJ, and your dentist will discuss what would work best in your situation.