WHAT IS TMJ?
TMJ disorders are the result of a variety of jaw joint-related problems. Many of our patients have had clicking sounds coming from their jaw, and sometimes pain associated with it for years. The good news is that advancements in the understanding of the mouth have allowed us to create effective treatments for this condition.
These symptoms and others occur when the joints of the jaw and the chewing muscles do not work together correctly. TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the name for each joint (right and left) that connects your jaw to your skull. Since some types of TMJ problems can lead to more severe conditions, early detection and treatment are essential.
WHAT CAUSES TMJ?
Possible causes of TMJ disorders can include:
- tooth and jaw alignment
- stress and teeth grinding
HOW DO YOU TREAT TMJ?
No one treatment can resolve TMJ disorders completely, and treatment takes time to become effective. Our dental professionals can help give you recommendations and treatments so you can have a healthier, more comfortable jaw. Before beginning treatment, it is essential to have your concerns adequately diagnosed by an experienced professional. Part of the dental examination involves checking the joints and muscles for tenderness, clicking, popping, or difficulty moving. Depending on the diagnosis, you may have to meet with more than one of our dentists or you may be referred to a physician.
There are several treatments for TMJ disorders. This step-by-step plan from the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) allows you to try simple therapies before having to have more intensive treatments that could include surgery. The NIDCR also recommends a “less is often best” approach in treating TMJ disorders, which includes:
- eating softer foods.
- avoiding chewing gum and biting your nails.
- treating the pain with heat packs.
- practicing relaxation techniques to control jaw tension, such as meditation or biofeedback.
Depending on your specific situation, these additional treatments may be advised:
- Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles.
- Medications prescribed by your dentist; for example, muscle relaxants, analgesics, anti-anxiety drugs, or anti-inflammatory medications.
- A night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding of teeth.
- In some cases, your dentist may recommend fixing an uneven bite by adjusting or reshaping some teeth.
- Orthodontic treatments may also be recommended.
Your dentist can suggest the most appropriate therapy based on the suspected cause.
SCHEDULE AN APPOINTMENT
If you are having TMJ pain, Dental Partners of Boston can help. Please schedule an appointment with us. We will work with you to diagnose the problem and start a treatment plan to alleviate the discomfort and pain you are experiencing. We care about our patients, have the experience to handle TMJ, find the cause, and give recommendations on treatment. Each case is different, and we will work with you one on one to address your TMJ pain.