Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction is a condition that can cause pain in the jaw joint and muscles surrounding it. As a result, people with TMJ dysfunction may have difficulty opening their mouths wide, chewing, or talking. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment for TMJ dysfunction, so it's essential to work with a healthcare professional to find the best approach for you. We will discuss what causes TMJ dysfunction and some of the treatments available. Here at Swansboro Family Dentistry, we know there is not much information out there on this issue, and therefore, here is everything you need to know.
What is TMJ dysfunction, and what are the symptoms?
The temporomandibular joint functions to open and close the mouth, make side-to-side movements of the jaw and slide it forward or backward. The cartilage discs that cushion this joint are located between a horseshoe-shaped disc called articular surfaces on each side. When you experience TMJ dysfunction, these cartilage discs can be worn down because they have been injured from improper alignment of your teeth or get compressed due to arthritis in the joints surrounding them. Symptoms include pain when opening or closing your mouth, popping sounds while chewing food, clicking noises by opening and closing your mouth, trouble tilting back head so you can look up at something high above you, and scenarios such as reaching for an item on a shelf, and pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulders.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it's best to come into our office for an evaluation. We can help determine if you have TMJ dysfunction and provide treatment options to help alleviate your discomfort.
What causes TMJ dysfunction, and how can it be treated?
There are many risk factors of TMJ dysfunction, including stress, clenching your teeth at night or grinding them together while sleeping, injury to the jaw area from a fracture or sports-related accident, and arthritis.
We offer an array of treatment options for our patients experiencing temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJD). These include oral appliances that shift the lower jaw forward to help open up the bite and relax muscles in this region and exercises such as tongue depressors and muscle relaxation techniques. We can also recommend you some home care practices such as chewing sugarless gum, which increases blood flow to those areas; taking over the counter pain medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen; applying ice on sore muscles; using moist heat to relax the muscles, and using a cervical pillow to support your neck while you sleep.
What are the long-term effects of untreated TMJ dysfunction, and how can it be managed effectively for better overall health?
Left untreated, TMJ dysfunction can have serious long-term effects, including pain in the jaw, neck, or shoulders; problems with your teeth such as chipping and cracking; an increased risk of arthritis due to narrowing the joint space; and headaches.
The good news is that it's possible to manage TMJD effectively for better overall health by using a combination of lifestyle changes like stress-relieving practices such as yoga or meditation along with physical therapy exercises at home. We may also recommend treatments such as oral appliances, which realign your lower jaw forward while you sleep all night, so there is more room in the back of your mouth and less pressure on your joints. This increases blood flow around them, which helps reduce inflammation and provides greater comfort when you wake up in the morning.
If you're experiencing any pain in your jaw, neck, or shoulders, please come in for a consultation so we can help alleviate your discomfort. We know how uncomfortable TMJ dysfunction can be and want to do everything to help make you feel better. Swansboro Family Dentistry offers both non-invasive and surgical treatments for TMJ dysfunction, so please call us today at 910-421-3022 if you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment. We look forward to helping you get relief from your pain.