Nearly everyone has found themselves grinding or clenching their teeth at one time or another, often during stressful periods. Some people, however, suffer from chronic temporomandibular joint (TMJ) problems, and this can cause pain, discomfort, and oral health problems that require restorative dentistry treatments and other interventions. The month of November is dedicated to TMJ awareness, so patients understand the importance of this joint and what can be done to fix the TMJ when it isn’t working properly.
Understanding the TMJ
The temporomandibular joint is a ball-and-socket joint with an intervening disc that connects the lower jaw and the skull and makes it possible for you to open and close your mouth. The joint works with muscles and ligaments to help you speak, chew, and swallow.
Causes of TMJ Problems
When your TMJ is not working correctly, the diagnosis is temporomandibular disorder (TMD). This condition could be caused by many different problems, like teeth grinding, stress, jaw misalignment, arthritis, dislocation, poor posture, or mouth injury.
Symptoms of Temporomandibular Disorder
The symptoms of TMD can appear in unexpected places. Your Suwanee dentist is trained to recognize even the most obscure symptoms of TMJ problems. You TMD could present in any of the following ways:
- Jaw: Clicking or popping sounds, pain in the cheek muscle
- Mouth: Limited opening, locks shut or open, clenching and grinding teeth
- Teeth: Soreness, worn enamel, gum recession
- Ears: Ringing or buzzing ears, ear pain, itchy ears, dizziness
- Eyes: Pain behind the eyes, bulging, bloodshot, sensitivity to light
- Neck: Stiffness, pain, sore muscles, shoulder aches, finger or arm numbness and pain
- Head: Migraine, shooting pain, sensitive scalp, headache in the forehead, temples, or sinus
- Throat: Difficulty swallowing, sore throat with no infection, voice changes, constant throat clearing, feeling like something is always stuck in your throat
Solutions for TMJ Problems
Treatment for your TMJ disorder will vary depending upon the cause, duration, and severity of your problem. Some of the solutions your Johns Creek dentist may present include the following:
- Night guard: Grinding your teeth at night is known as sleep bruxism. This condition can be addressed with a customized full-coverage night guard that is worn on the upper jaw during sleep, protecting the teeth from grinding against each other. An NTI night guard is also an option for many, triggering a nerve reflex that relaxes the muscles, protecting the teeth from grinding and stopping the clenching behavior.
- Invisalign: A misaligned bite is one of the usual suspects when it comes to TMJ problems. Maybe you never had orthodontics, or previous orthodontic treatment did not adequately address the articular discs of the jaw. Invisalign can correct your bite, align your jaw, and eliminate the pain and discomfort of TMD, all while giving you a flawlessly straight, beautiful smile that’s easier to care for and healthier in all ways.
- Exercise: Sometimes the TMJ is incredibly tight or weak. Your dentist may recommend and demonstrate head movements, tongue exercises, and other movements that can help strengthen the jaw muscles and relieve tension in the head and neck.
- Medication: Anti-inflammatories, analgesics, and muscle relaxants are options for some patients. Anti-anxiety drugs could also potentially help minimize the stress that seeps into the jaw at night. Any pharmaceutical intervention should be carefully discussed with your dentist and he may refer you to another medical professional for this type of treatment.
See Your Johns Creek Dentist for TMJ Therapy
There is no reason to suffer needlessly with TMJ problems. The problem is easily addressed. Even if you don’t want to invest in treatment like Invisalign, a night guard can take pressure off your joints and help promote healing. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Mitul Patel at Family & Cosmetic Dental Care in Johns Creek. Contact us today to get rid of your jaw pain and on the road to a healthy TMJ.