Your mouth consists of many important features. The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, has many jobs. The TMJ is the joint, or hinge, which connects your lower jaw to your skull. It is responsible for the movement of your jaw, allowing you to eat, speak, yawn and more. When the joint becomes irritated, it becomes inflamed. The ability for your TMJ to do its job properly is affected and can cause severe pain. At National Dental Douglaston, we can ease the issues associated with a compromised TMJ with TMJ treatment.
TMJ disorder is a broad category of issues that affect the temporomandibular joint. This pain can affect your ability to eat, speak, and sleep. It can even affect your oral health. It can be caused by such issues as:
- Facial trauma. Facial trauma can be the result of a car accident, a fall, a sports injury or a fight.
- Whiplash. Even if you have not suffered any visible physical injuries during a car accident, you can still experience whiplash. The force from the accident can temporarily dislocate your jaw, irritating the joint, which can then cause it to swell.
- Bruxism, or grinding and clenching your teeth
- Sleep apnea
- Misaligned teeth or jaw
- Arthritis, osteoarthritis, or rheumatoid arthritis
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF TMJ DISORDER?
There are several symptoms that accompany TMJ disorder. Some of the symptoms you experience are easily thought to be symptoms of another issue, which can cause TMJ disorder to go undiagnosed. Symptoms include:
- Jaw pain
- Facial pain
- You find it difficult to open your mouth. In some cases, it locks, and you cannot move it at all for a period.
- Trouble chewing and speaking
- Your jaw clicks, pops or grinds while you chew
HOW IS TMJ DISORDER DIAGNOSED?
If you suspect an issue with your jaw, it is important to seek dental treatment. At National Dental, we perform a thorough visual inspection of your mouth (checking both inside and out), as well as take digital X-rays or images with our ICAT machine. With these images, we can get a clearer picture of what is happening in areas that can’t be seen through a regular examination. We can see such things as the condition of the jawbone, if there are any infections, or if there is an alignment issue. These images are vital to formulating an effective treatment plan.
The exact treatment plan we create for you depends upon the cause of your TMJ disorder. Some patients fare well with nothing more than pain medication. There are many treatments available:
- Orthodontics. If you have misaligned teeth or jaw, orthodontics can work to correct these issues. For many, once the alignment issue is corrected, your TMJ symptoms stop.
- Night mouth guards. A night mouth guard is designed to protect your teeth and lessen the pressure exerted on your jaw (and muscles). It is a custom fit device that is made from a mold of your mouth and fits over your top set of teeth. Night guards are often prescribed when you suffer from bruxism. While it cannot solve bruxism, it can help to alleviate TMJ symptoms.
- Botox. While commonly used as a cosmetic procedure to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, Botox can also help with TMJ pain. Botox is injected strategically to weaken the muscles around the joint, minimizing the pressures you exert.
- Surgery. Surgical procedures are reserved as a last option when nothing else has worked. Arthroscopy is a common procedure and removes buildup in the jaw. In rare instances, open jaw surgery may be required.
If your jaw is in serious pain, and you are finding once simple tasks – eating, speaking, etc. – you may be suffering from TMJ disorder. Call National Dental Douglaston today at (718) 557-9882 to schedule your consultation!