Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) disorders are a category of issues related to the joint that connect the jaw to the skull. Symptoms such as pain or “clicking” in the jaw can often be more easily diagnosed and treated. Some types of TMJ problems, however, can lead to more serious conditions. Thus, early detection and treatment are important.
Who should have TMJ Disorder Treatment?
Those who answer yes to a few or more of the following questions may need treatment for a TMJ disorder:
- Are you aware of grinding or clenching your teeth?
- Do you wake up with sore, stiff muscles around your jaws?
- Do you have frequent headaches or neck aches?
- Does the pain get worse when you clench your teeth?
- Does stress make your clenching and pain worse?
- Does your jaw click, pop, grate, catch, or lock when you open your mouth?
- Is it difficult or painful to open your mouth, eat, or yawn?
- Have you ever injured your neck, head, or jaws?
- Have you had problems (such as arthritis) with other joints?
- Do you have teeth that no longer touch when you bite?
- Do your teeth meet differently from time to time?
- Is it hard to use your front teeth to bite or tear food?
- Are your teeth sensitive, loose, broken or worn?
Treatment for TMJ disorders requires both professional care and self-care at home. Initially, treatment will seek to alleviate pain and muscle spasms through a pain reliever, anti-inflammatory, muscle relaxant, or steroids. These self-care treatments may be effective as well:
- Resting your jaw
- Keeping your teeth apart when you are not swallowing or eating
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice and heat
- Exercising your jaw
- Practicing good posture
Our doctors may also fit you with a splint to help keep your teeth apart and relax the muscles to reduce pain.
If your disorder causes problems with how your teeth fit together, it may be necessary to have a bite adjustment procedure, orthodontics, or restorative dental work. In severe cases, our doctors will recommend surgical options. These are usually reserved for patients whose jaw can’t open, is dislocated, degenerate, or has undergone other treatments unsuccessfully.
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