Your temporomandibular joint holds an important place in your facial anatomy. It connects our jaw to the rest of the skull. Without your temporomandibular joint, you couldn’t talk, chew, or even yawn. This joint is in use almost continually, and you can imagine the problems that can arise if the joint is out of alignment.
Temporomandibular joint disorder, TMJ for short. Any problem with your jaw and the muscles of your face and neck that control the jaw is called a temporomandibular joint disorder.
At Gentle Dental, our team has extensive experience diagnosing and treating TMJ. This is an important distinction because many dentists and doctors misdiagnose the pain that comes with TMJ. Often it is diagnosed as a problem with a tooth, or from something like an ear infection. Proper understanding and diagnosis is important to fix the problems with your jaw.
What are some symptoms of TMJ?
Symptoms of TMJ vary by the patient. In lesser cases, biting into hard food can send sharp pain through the jaw joint. In severe cases, eating anything or even talking can result in pain. The pain starts in the jaw, but can spread throughout the face and even into the neck and shoulders.
What are some treatments for TMJ?
TMJ is usually caused by pressure created by grinding and clenching of the teeth, dislocation of the disc and soft cushion between the ball and socket of the jaw joint, and even osteoarthritis in the joint.
These are some of the treatments we use at Gentle Dental:
- Using a bite splint — We create a custom bite splint that is placed over your upper or lower teeth to make them slide smoothly against each other, instead of clenching. This relieves pressure on the joint.
- Physical therapy — Stretching exercises and biofeedback can overcome muscle clenching.
- Ultrasound — Deep heat can be applied to the joint.
- Radiowave energy — Radiowave energy can stimulate the joint.
- Laser therapy — Laser energy can reduce pain and decrease inflammation.
- Medication — Anti-inflammatory medication reduces the overworked muscles. Anti-anxiety medication can be effective to reduce stress. Muscle relaxers can also be effective.
- Botox — Known for erasing wrinkles, Botox stops muscles from contracting. This can be effective in relaxing overactive muscles causing TMJ.