The joint that connects your jaw to your skull (the temporomandibular joint) can become inflamed and irritated. The pain could be constant, or it may come and go. If you have pain in this joint, or if you experience facial pain, neck pain or shoulder pain, you may want to bring this up to your dentist. You could be experiencing the symptoms of TMJ, Temporomandibular Joint Disorder.
The Causes of TMJ
When you have TMJ, there is additional stress on the joints, muscles, and ligaments that allow your jaw to function. You engage these muscles throughout the day whenever you move your mouth to speak, eat, or yawn. There are three main causes of this disorder, including:
- A misaligned bite
- Jaw injury
The Symptoms of TMJ
If you have TMJ, jaw, neck and facial pain may not be your only symptoms. Some of the symptoms of TMJ may seem unrelated to your jaw, but they are indeed related. You could experience the following symptoms.
- Recurring headaches
- A change in your jaw position
- Recurring ear infections
- Frequent sinus infections
- Sensitive teeth
- Popping when your jaw moves
The Treatment Options for Your Temporomandibular Joint Disorder
Your dentist may not realize the extent of your symptoms, so it is essential to maintain open communication if you are experiencing discomfort or pain. The sooner TMJ is diagnosed and treated, the better the outcome. There are several treatment options available.
A Daytime Mouth Guard
Your dentist may want you to be wearing a mouth guard, commonly called a splint, during the day. The splints used to treat TMJ are similar to the clear aligners orthodontists use to straighten teeth.
A Mouth Guard at Night
A night guard will reposition your bite, so the muscles and ligaments relax while you sleep. Your mouth guard is custom-made. The repositioning of your jaw becomes permanent with time.
Correcting Your Bite
Your dentist may want to refer you to an orthodontist for further evaluation if they suspect a misaligned bite is causing your TMJ disorder. Repositioning your teeth may be necessary to alleviate your pain. Your bite may need correcting even if your teeth are straight, or have been straightened.
Why Your Dentist Should Treat TMJ
Even if your disorder is not causing a lot of distress, your dentist may want to evaluate you further. Left untreated, TMJ problems can worsen over time. As the symptoms increase, the treatment can get more complicated. Some common complications include:
- The disk between the bones may wear
- The joint may not pop back into place
- The jaw can begin to lock
- Can cause excessive wear on your teeth
- Excessive wear may cause teeth to crack
Don’t wait until your recurring symptoms become severe. With early treatment of your TMJ disorder, your risks of complications are minimized. Once joint problems progress to the point of causing the jaw to lock, surgery may be required to repair the damage.
If you are experiencing symptoms of TMJ, speak to your dentist. In Attleboro, MA, contact Exquisite Smiles. You don’t need to live a life of discomfort and pain. TMJ can be and should be treated. Let us help you find a solution and alleviate your TMJ pain.