When You Need TMJ Treatment
You might not think of your jaw and its components as part of your dental health, exactly. Therefore, when your jaw hurts, or the muscles and joints are damaged, you might not think to visit your dentist first for an examination, diagnosis, and treatment. However, your jaws are the force that drives your ability to bite and chew, and sometimes, TMJ treatment at your dentist’s office is vital to maintaining that ability.
What Are TMJ Disorders?
Your jaw’s temporomandibular joints (TMJs) are the most-often used joints in your entire body. The combination gliding-and-hinge joints disperse the pressure of your bite evenly to avoid sustaining damage when you bite and chew. Yet, when the joints are placed under extreme pressure, or when they are injured due to traumatic force, the pressure from your bite can damage them further. The causes, risks, and exact natures of TMJ disorders vary, and can include any of a number of conditions that affect your jaw’s ability to function. Because their natures vary, so do their symptoms, which can include;
- Chronic, severe headaches
- Ringing and/or pain in the ears
- Trouble biting and chewing
- Popping/clicking sensations when you open and close your mouth
Risk Factors and Symptoms
The key to your bite’s proper function is balance. Your teeth should be aligned to meet each other squarely when you bite down, and your jawbones should be straight so your TMJs can move smoothly, at the same time. Common risks that could affect this balance include;
- Crooked teeth, or malocclusion
- An uneven jawbone (often a congenital problem)
- A fractured/broken jawbone, especially if it has not healed properly
- Impacted wisdom teeth, which can force your other teeth out of alignment
- Habitually grinding your teeth, known as bruxism
- Swollen and/or misaligned TMJs
TMJ Treatment Options
TMJ treatment is different for everyone, and usually concentrates on fixing the issues that cause the imbalance in your bite. When balance is restored, the pressure should be relieved from your jaw’s joints and nerves, and the discomfort can reside. If your teeth are crooked, we may recommend orthodontic treatment. If you have one or more impacted wisdom teeth, then we may suggest tooth extraction. In minor cases, simple exercises, massage therapy, and other relaxation techniques can help alleviate muscle tension and the symptoms of TMJ disorders.