Your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is responsible for connecting the lower jaw to the upper jaw and the skull. Pain in this area can cause tenderness in your jaw muscles, jaw clicking, earaches, and headaches. This can disrupt your daily activities. If you want to know how your dentist can help with your TMJ pain, here…
Ask a General Dentist – What Is TMJ ?
If a patient is experiencing jaw pain, they may be suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint disorder). The TMJ refers to the joint connecting the jaw and the skull. It plays a role in complex movements needed for life. These include breathing, eating, and talking. Any dysfunction of the TMJ can lead to severe discomfort, making the practice of basic dental hygiene painful.
Common signs and symptoms of TMJ
There are several reasons why a patient may experience pain in the TMJ. The discomfort could be in the joint itself or the various muscles in the area controlling the face and jaw movements. Besides jaw pain, patients with TMJ disorder may also suffer from persistent headaches and neck pain. Another sign is the popping or clicking sound when opening or closing the mouth. The cracking noise may be due to the disc inside the joint falling into an unnatural position.
Any awkward movement involving the TMJ or the muscles that connect the joints and the teeth will cause imbalance. The misalignment between the top and bottom teeth will add more pressure upon certain teeth. As a result, patients become prone to cracked, broken, or worn-out teeth. Moreover, patients with TMJ disorder tend to grind their teeth. This exacerbates these issues, causing further tooth damage. Other signs of TMJ disorder are earaches, jaw locking, and facial pain.
What can cause TMJ disorder
TMJ disorder does not always have a demonstrable cause. But there are some common possibilities of the origins of the joint problem. These include arthritis, which could be due to infection, trauma, or degenerative disease. TMJ disorder may also occur after sustaining a physical injury. There are also potential causes related to dental health. These include bruxism or teeth-grinding and tooth and jaw problems, like crooked teeth or an improper bite.
How a dentist can help
Dentists are teeth doctors. But proper treatment is impossible without examining the mouth as part of a system. This system includes the TMJ. A dentist can identify dysfunction in the TMJ and recommend dental treatment if appropriate.
If the TMJ disorder is due to teeth-clenching, the dentist may prescribe a custom dental appliance. The bite guard will help alleviate the symptoms by preventing the upper teeth from grinding against the lower teeth. If the dysfunction is due to teeth or jaw misalignment, some dental treatments may also help. A general dentist may recommend braces or any suitable treatment. This is to realign the teeth and jaw, allowing the mouth to close in the proper position.
Consult your dentist today
It is never advisable for a patient to diagnose their health concerns. An accurate diagnosis for TMJ will require a thorough assessment from a general dentist. The proper approach to resolving the discomfort is to have a dentist perform an evaluation. Patients should not simply hope for the pain to go away. Schedule your appointment as soon as possible to get rid of pain and discomfort.
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