The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the connection between the lower jawbone and the skull. It is a complex joint that allows the mandible to move in all directions. When the joint becomes irritated, it can cause severe pain and discomfort in the jaw and face. The most common cause of TMJ disorders is clenching or grinding teeth (bruxism). Other causes include injury to the jaw, arthritis, stress, or teeth grinding during sleep.
How Can TMJ Problems Be Prevented?
The effects of TMJ disorders can be minimized by maintaining good oral health. Regular brushing and flossing at least twice a day are recommended. It is also vital to schedule dental checkups and cleanings twice a year.
Besides oral health, taking care of your body through exercise and relaxation is another way to help avoid TMJ problems. Stress management techniques such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises are also helpful in reducing TMJ pain.
What Are the Symptoms of TMJ Disorders?
The exact symptoms of TMJ problems can vary from person to person. Some possible signs of TMJ disorders include:
- A popping or clicking sound when you open your mouth or chew food
- Pain when you open your mouth wide or chew food
- Pain in your jaw, cheeks, or temples
- Mild pain in your ears
- Pain in your lower neck when you turn your head from one side to another
- Limited movement of your jaw when opening or closing your mouth
- Pain when you touch your jaw or face
- Trouble talking or chewing food
- Waking up with a sore jaw or facial pain after sleeping
How Are TMJ Disorders Diagnosed?
Our dentist will carry out a visual exam during your initial dental visit. The dentist will check for any abnormalities such as swelling, tenderness around the jaws and face, loss of fullness in your cheeks, limited range of motion, loss of muscle mass around the jaw, etc.
The dentist may also examine how you open and close your mouth and check for any clicking sounds or popping sensations in the joint. Some tests such as X-rays and MRIs may be required to diagnose severe cases or rule out other conditions that could cause similar symptoms.
What Is the Treatment for TMJ Problems?
Treatment for TMJ disorders depends on how severe they are, what causes them, and how you respond to treatment. If there is mild discomfort in the joints, soft tissue massage may help relieve pain and discomfort. If massage does not help ease the condition, splints (mouthguards) may be prescribed to prevent teeth grinding at night.
If splints do not relieve symptoms after a few weeks of use, oral appliances such as bite plates or night guards may be recommended to provide relief from grinding pains during sleep. If these don’t work either, injections may be given at specific points on the jawline to block pain signals from reaching the brain and reduce pain levels. In severe cases where other treatments don’t work well enough, surgery may be considered to repair damaged tissues in the joint.
TMJ Treatment in Frankfort, KY
Signature Smiles is located in Louisville, KY, and Frankfort, KY. Call us at (502) 326-1800 or (502) 226-1900 and schedule an appointment to learn more about our dental services.