TMJ Disorder: Causes and Treatment
TMJ is the abbreviated term for temporomandibular joint. This joint is present on each side of the head just in front of the ear above the jaw. Discomfort in this area can be attributed to many things. But a visit to your dentist can provide a diagnosis as well as the treatment available to bring relief.
TMJ Disorder can cover a wide spectrum of problems, but usually the discomfort attributed to TMJ disorder is due to inflammation of the joint itself. And because we are dealing with a joint, many other issues such as arthritis, breaks or trauma can add to the possible causes and how to treat the problem.
Symptoms can vary widely when discussing TMJ disorder. The temporomandibular joint is surrounded by muscles, nerves, tendons, ligaments, bones and tissue. Because there are so many working parts that are affected by the motion of these joints, finding one specific cause for discomfort can be a long process.
Earache, headache, neck and shoulder tenderness, chewing difficulties or a popping sound when you open and close your mouth might all be associated with TMJ disorder. So one might ask why you should see your dentist if you’re suffering with a stiff neck or an earache? If TMJ disorder is at the root of your discomfort, your dentist can help you determine the cause and suggest treatment options to resolve the problem.
Bruxism has long been thought of as a primary contributor to TMJ disorder. Bruxism is the term given to the consistent grinding of your teeth or clenching your jaw. For many this is an unconscious habit done during sleep. Quite often stress is the trigger for bruxism and many people catch themselves doing the same thing throughout the day.
Having an uneven bite can lead to issues involving the TMJ. Shifting teeth due to tooth loss or the addition of a new restoration that has not been adjusted properly are possible contributors to jaw discomfort.
One of the first things your dentist will do is a total assessment of your condition. A thorough dental exam testing your bite and reviewing the level of grinding on your teeth will provide clues to your dentist as to the cause of the problem.
Adjusting your bite by leveling the biting surfaces of your teeth is one option your dentist might consider. Or if your dentist feels bruxism is at the base of your TMJ discomfort, a night guard might be suggested which should help to curtail or eliminate the subconscious grinding and clenching done during sleep.
For temporary relief, acetaminophen or any product that reduces inflammation might also be recommended. For more persistent problems, more extensive testing will be done. But the first step toward relief is a visit to East Hills Dental Associates in Roslyn NY for a professional diagnosis and treatment plan. Call 516-484-6600 and schedule your appointment today.
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