You may not think much about TMJ disorder unless a dentist diagnoses you with it. This is a serious condition that can cause much pain and discomfort. Untreated, this disorder can make it difficult to chew and even speak. Instead of suffering and being in agony, you can speak to your dentist. Fortunately, relief is available with a few different treatments. Your dentist can look at various options.
A look at TMJ
On both sides of the jaws is a joint called the temporomandibular joint. This sliding hinge-like joint connects the jawbone to the skull. It is critical for any activities that require opening and closing the mouth. Most of the time, people do not even think about using this joint. However, injury, wear and tear, or bad habits can put a strain on the joint, irritating it.
Disorder of this joint can bring excruciating pain to the individual. The feelings can radiate up to the ears and throughout the face. The jaw may even be tender to the touch. This disorder can limit a person’s range of motion in the jaw. It may even cause headaches and interfere with a person’s quality of life.
Diagnosing the disorder
A person can look for the signs and symptoms of TMJ, but a dentist will diagnose it. The dentist will examine the patient and confirm that there are concerns with the joint. First, there will be a series of X-rays to see if there are visible signs of injuries. The dentist will look at the jaw and check the range of motion. It may even help to listen as the patient opens and closes the mouth, as the jaw could make popping or clicking sounds. The dentist will also press on both sides of the jaw and ask the patient how uncomfortable it is.
Controlling the effects of TMJ is a good first step that the dentist will take. The dentist can prescribe a variety of medications, including pain relievers and anti-inflammatories. Taking muscle relaxants can also help the person feel more comfortable and have an improved range of motion in the jaw. Some dentists may even give the patient an antidepressant, which is sometimes shown to relieve pain and help stop teeth grinding.
Another approach is to walk the patient through mobility exercises to strengthen the jaw. The dentist can help the patient stretch the jaw muscles and improve flexibility with the joint. The patient should always follow the dentist’s instructions when it comes to these exercises. The dentist may also advise the patient to apply heat and cold packs to the jaw to reduce pain and any swelling.
In more advanced TMJ cases, surgery may be necessary and effective. One approach is a process called arthrocentesis. The dentist will drain the joint of fluid and other materials using small needles. Arthroscopy is another option and is less invasive than open-jaw surgery. However, open-jaw surgery may be the right treatment when other measures have not been successful.
You can find relief
Living with TMJ can be difficult. You should not have to suffer the effects of this disorder. Your dentist can properly diagnose you and provide the right treatment. If you have jaw pain, make a dental appointment today and get the help you need.
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