TMJ, or Temporomandibular joint dysfunction, can be a debilitating disorder, due to the discomfort it causes and manner in which it disrupts normal activities. Below is a description of how and why TMJ pain manifests itself and the benefits you’ll gain from treating it.
What Is The Temporomandibular Joint?
This joint is situated just below the ears, and acts as a hinge. It is responsible for activities such as yawning, speaking, chewing and laughing, which are normally done without aches or discomfort. However, this joint is capable of shifting its alignment, which can result from blunt force trauma to the jaw, and may be accompanied by effects such as headaches, lockjaw, ear ache, soreness or tension within the jaw or neck, and clicking sounds whenever the mouth is opened.
Other Dental Issues Can Make TMJ Even Worse
TMJ by itself is problematic, but combined with conditions such as bruxism, it becomes even worse. This is because bruxism involves the grinding of the lower and upper teeth. It may be done voluntarily or involuntarily, and while an individual is asleep or awake. Since the majority of people who have bruxism don’t realize they have it, the behavior is difficult to control, and it exacerbates TMJ because it increases damage to the jaw.
How TMJ Treatment Works
The treatment options available for TMJ are straightforward. Since the condition is usually related to jaw clenching or teeth grinding while one is asleep, dentists can provide you with a comfortable, fully customized mouth guard which can be worn during the evening. The reason the mouth guard is so effective is because it keeps the lower and upper teeth separated from one another, which both reduces the pain associated with TMJ while preventing further damage. Additional types of treatment which are provided by dentists include bite alignment, which enhances the manner in which the lower and upper teeth connect whenever your mouth closes. Many patients have also been surprised to find that even Botox can alleviate the pain associated with TMJ.
This is accomplished by injections which are made into the muscles of the face. The injections also eradicate headaches (which often come from grinding of the teeth) and Botox has also been found to be effective in reducing lockjaw. Pain is the body’s way of informing you that something is wrong, which means that it should never be ignored. Anyone who is experiencing tension, pain or discomfort near the jaw should contact a dental specialist. Like other oral issues, if TMJ is not correctly diagnosed and treated, the problem will only get worse.
A qualified dentist has the ability, training and knowledge needed to evaluate your jaws and any symptoms you’re experiencing to determine if you have TMJ. Once the condition is diagnosed, they will be able to establish a treatment program that can help eradicate jaw pain and stiffness and bring you relief.