If you have been living with a painful jaw or chronic headaches, you may have a condition known as TMJ. Commonly caused by an uneven bite or grinding of the teeth, TMJ is easily treated if the symptoms are caught early. At Crosby Dentistry, we have experience working with TMJ and can offer innovative and practical solutions to help patients live pain-free.
What Is TMJ?
TMJ is the abbreviation for a condition called temporomandibular joint syndrome, a disorder impacting the temporomandibular joint in the jaw. This joint connects the jawbone to the skull, near the front of the ears and is responsible for allowing you to move your jaw up and down and side to side so you can talk, chew, and yawn.
Sometimes, problems develop in the joint or in the soft tissues surrounding the joint, which can make it uncomfortable to move the jaw. In these cases, your jaw may be sore, swollen, or will start to pop or click as you open and close your mouth. TMJ may be temporary and only occur for brief periods. In other cases, it can become a chronic condition.
What Causes TMJ?
There can be many causes for TMJ, and Dr. Crosby will help you diagnose what has caused your particular case.
Some common causes can include:
- Movement of the disk between the ball and socket in the joint
- Grinding teeth
- Stress that causes clenching
- Arthritis in the joint
Different personality types or personal situations can also impact the amount of stress a patient experiences, and momentary anxiety will often create temporary TMJ symptoms. Arthritis and trouble with the disk joint can easily be diagnosed with the help of an X-ray.
What Are Symptoms of TMJ?
Successful treatment for TMJ begins with the correct diagnosis. Patients need to recognize the early symptoms of TMJ so they can find fast relief.
Some common symptoms of TMJ include:
- Sore or tender jaw and face muscles
- Swollen side of the face
- Popping or clicking in the jaw
- Difficulty opening or closing the jaw
- Reduced range of motion in the jaw
If you notice some of these early symptoms develop, it is important to see a dentist right away. A visit to Dr. Crosby can confirm a TMJ diagnosis, and together you can come up with a treatment plan to find relief.
How Is TMJ Treated?
Your dentist will provide some comprehensive treatment options that can help eliminate pain and discomfort associated with TMJ. One of the most common treatment methods is to use a night guard to protect the teeth. Night guards are made of thick plastic and are custom-molded to your mouth so they are comfortable to wear. The thick plastic guard can help protect and cushion the teeth, even if you are grinding and chewing your teeth in your sleep.
Your dentist may also suggest medication to help relax the joint and soothe the pain. Sometimes, simply adding a crown, dental bridge, or braces can help correct TMJ by fixing alignment and jaw problems.
Can TMJ Be Left Untreated?
If left untreated, TMJ can lead to more significant health concerns. Not only will a patient be in discomfort, but TMJ can severely damage the jaw joint, muscles, and bone. Uneven wear and tear on the bones and teeth can cause complicating factors within the mouth. Plus, TMJ tends to worsen over time, so early diagnosis and treatment are essential to successfully eliminating this condition.
With the Crosby Dentistry team on your side, we will help you find solutions to eliminate your TMJ and restore comfort. Call our office for a consultation today.