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Posted on: March 3, 2023
What to Know About TMJ Disorders
Many people suffer from symptoms of temporomandibular joint disorder, which is commonly referred to as TMJ disorder. It causes problems in the temporomandibular joints, which are important structures that connect the jawbone and the skull. Your dentist in Voorhees knows that you depend on these joints for talking and eating, but the aches, pains and other troubles associated with TMJ disorder can make daily activities challenging. If damage or alignment problems cause you to develop TMJ disorder, you’re going to want to learn what you can do about it.
Possible causes of TMJ disorder include bruxism (teeth grinding), jaw clenching caused by stress, past injuries to the mouth, and problems with bite alignment. Genetics can influence this condition as well, and so can health issues like arthritis. It’s common for people’s TMJ disorder to stem from a combination of factors.
What Are the Common Signs of a TMJ Disorder?
If you have some of the following symptoms, you might want to talk to your dentist in Voorhees about TMJ disorders:
- Jaw pain or pain in the surrounding area — maybe even in your ears, neck, or shoulders
- Trouble opening and closing your mouth, as if your jaw is stiff
- Sounds like grating, clicking, or popping in your jaw
- Limited jaw motion
- Struggles with chewing food
- Tinnitus (a recurring ringing sound in your ears)
- Sore, achy head
If you’re experiencing these symptoms, you don’t have to grin and bear it. Instead, see your dentist in Voorhees for an exam. In addition to looking closely at your mouth, the dentist will talk to you about your medical history and your jaw problems. To help with the diagnosis, the dental team may take X-rays too. Together, these exam components will give your dentist a clearer picture of what’s causing the discomfort in your mouth.
How Is TMJ Disorder Treated?
Dental professionals have a variety of treatment options that they can try for TMJ disorder. Your dentist will consider the underlying causes of your condition when developing a treatment plan for you. The dentist will factor in the severity of your TMJ disorder as well. While it’s possible that surgery may be recommended for you, there’s a good chance that the dentist will try non-surgical treatment options, such as lifestyle changes, first. To go along with lifestyle adjustments, physical therapy and medication may be included in your treatment plan. These non-surgical treatments are often effective in helping patients find relief from the pain, soreness and stiffness associated with TMJ disorder.
Lifestyle Changes and Other Non-surgical Treatments
The dentist might have you start taking an anti-inflammatory medicine. It could be useful for addressing symptoms like pain and swelling. Getting support from a physical therapist could help as well. In therapy sessions, you might do stretches and exercises. They would be beneficial for muscle strength, flexibility and all-around jaw health. Over time, you may experience less discomfort and bring back your full range of jaw motion.
To support your treatment process, it’s a good idea to make these lifestyle adjustments:
- Opting for soft, easy-to-chew snacks rather than chewy or crunchy items
- Being careful about how far you open your mouth, even when yawning
- Keeping pencils, bottle caps and other non-food items away from your mouth — including your fingernails!
- Getting stress relief in your day wherever possible, perhaps through meditation exercises or yoga
Dental Interventions for TMJ Disorder
Another type of treatment that dentists sometimes suggest for their patients is called an oral splint. You’ll place a splint in your mouth to help resolve some of your TMJ issues, such as how you position your bite or hold your jaw. An oral splint might also help you break the habit of clenching or grinding your teeth. Splints are removable, so you’ll be able to take yours out as needed. Orthodontic treatment could be another step that your dentist suggests. Getting braces may seem like a big commitment, but it might make a huge difference in how your bite lines up and how your mouth feels. An orthodontist might also suggest another dental appliance, such as a retainer, instead of braces.
For some patients, surgery may be the answer to their woes. While, at first, you might hesitate at the prospect of surgery, it will be worth it if it fixes your pain and stiffness. Besides, some surgeries are fairly simple and focus on bringing down inflammation by draining fluid from the site. Others may involve taking out bone spurs, suturing discs or replacing your joints with prosthetics.
The best thing that you can do for your TMJ disorder is to make a call to your dentist in Voorhees. Proper treatment begins with an official diagnosis. It makes sense to have a professional consider the causes of your condition and develop a treatment plan that addresses those causes. With professional care, you can stop TMJ progression and take steps to reduce your pain and lack of mobility.
Many people have TMJ disorder, but the reasons behind this condition are diverse. Inflammation and damage in the temporomandibular joints may be caused by chronic stress that leaves you clenching or grinding your teeth. TMJ disorder might also be associated with genetics, jaw alignment, arthritis or an injury to the mouth. No matter what instigates this disorder, it can leave you with a sore, stiff jaw that’s hard to open.
Don’t despair if TMJ disorder is causing you trouble. Instead, turn to your dentist in Voorhees for the help you need. Our dental practice can work with you to address your acute symptoms and make a long-term plan for treatment. We have the expertise to support any other oral health needs you have as well. For TMJ disorder or any other dental issues, please call to schedule an appointment with one of the members of our office staff.