TMJ – What does it mean?
TMJ is the acronym for temporomandibular joint. Attaching the jaw to the skull, the TMJ joints allow a person to open his or her mouth, to chew, and to move the jaw. These joints are just in front of your ears on both sides of your head, and also make it possible for you to enunciate your words when you talk so your speech can be understood by others.
Your jaw and skull come together here. You jaw is attached through this ball and socket joint by ligaments, muscle, which also has a disk for cushioning the bones from the movement. When something goes wrong with how this joint operates, significant pain can result.
The causes of TMJ problems are generally as follows:
• Misalignment of the teeth and jaw
• An injury to the jaw
• the stress of frequent grinding of the teeth
• arthritis of this jaw joint
• dislocation of this joint
What Will Your Dentist Do to Determine If You Have TMJ?
Without a diagnostic exam by your dentist, it is difficult to determine the cause of facial pain you may be experiencing. The dentist will examine your face and jaw by examining the joint itself and the muscles around it to see if the area is tender to the touch. Dr. Gehrig will also listen carefully for any popping or clicking noises and will ask you whether or not it is difficult for you to move your jaw. Depending upon what he finds, he may refer you to physician or another dentist who specializes in this disorder.
If the symptoms are on the milder side, he may simply advise you to practice relaxing any tension you feel in the muscles around this join and when necessary ask you to apply a heat pack to help relax those muscles. Dr. Gehrig will ask you not to chew gum or bite your fingernails. He may also ask you to eat softer foods for a while too. These methods will sometimes be enough to cause the pain to stop the tensing of muscles and the pain which can accompany that stress.
For more severe pain, Dr. Gehrig may prescribe a night guard to diminish the stress created by grinding your teeth during sleep. To help jumpstart relief, he may even prescribe anti -inflammatory medicines, pain relief meds, or even anti-anxiety drugs to stop the stress in the muscles.
It is also possible if your tooth and jaw alignment are responsible for your TMJ, the Doc may recommend adjusting or even reshaping some of your teeth. This could reduce or totally eliminate joint pain caused by teeth misaligned and placing undue stress on the joint from your bite. Depend upon your dentist for the best choice of action for your situation.
Filed under: General Dentistry
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