TMJ

Your mouth has many working parts. All of the different components work together, enabling you to do a wide array of different tasks, such as biting, chewing, speaking, and more. One of these components is your temporomandibular joints or TMJ. These ball and socket joints are where the mandible and skull meet. You have two of these joints, one on each side of your face. They work with the attached bones, ligaments, and muscles, enabling you to open and close your mouth as well as move your jaw from side to side. If these joints become irritated, you may be left with a substantial amount of pain. Eating and speaking can become incredibly difficult.  At Mettler & Griego Family Dentistry, we can diagnose the cause of your TMJ issues, providing you with the treatment you need to restore your oral health and your quality of life.

TMJ Disorder

TMJ disorder is a blanket term that refers to a variety of different issues that can affect the health and function of your TMJ. These issues cause the joints to become irritated and inflamed, which can then lead to pain and difficulty opening and closing your mouth, and biting into foods.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?

TMJ disorder can be caused by several different issues. These issues include:

  • Bruxism. Bruxism is a condition in which you grind and clench your teeth even when you are asleep. This issue places excessive stress on your jaw muscles, which then place excessive pressure on the TMJ. Not only does the TMJ become inflamed but the jaw muscles can as well.
  • Facial trauma. This can be caused by issues such as auto accidents, falls, and sports injuries.
  • Dislocation of the jaw. If your jaw becomes dislocated, small tears can form in the tendons and ligaments that support the TMJ.
  • Osteoarthritis. The TMJ is a joint like any other joint and can be affected by arthritis.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition in which your joints become inflamed.

Symptoms of TMJ Disorder

Pain in your TMJ is one of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder, but it is not the only one. Many symptoms appear gradually, growing worse over time. Symptoms of TMJ disorder include:

  • Facial pain and swelling.
  • Your jaw locks open or shut temporarily.
  • Difficulty and pain when your jaw moves during eating and speaking.
  • Clicking, popping, or grinding noises in the joints.
  • Chronic headaches or earaches, both of which can be caused by pain that radiates from the joints.

Diagnosing Your TMJ Issues

When you experience symptoms of TMJ disorder, it is important that you seek treatment right away. A thorough oral exam will allow us to determine the cause of your TMJ issues. We begin by looking over the visible structures of your mouth, assessing your teeth for wear patterns and alignment. We also assess the alignment of your jaw. In addition to a visual exam, we also take digital X-rays, which enable us to see the TMJ space.

How are TMJ Disorders Treated?

The treatment you receive depends on the cause of your TMJ issues. Treatments for TMJ disorder include:

  • Treatment at home: Mild issues can sometimes be eased with over the counter or prescription pain relievers or muscle relaxers. Stress relief tactics, such as deep breathing and yoga, can also help.
  • A night guard: A night guard is a custom-fit oral device that is made to be worn while you sleep. It provides a cushion against excessive bite pressures for patients with bruxism. The night guard absorbs the impact, protecting your jaw muscles, teeth and your TMJ.
  • Botox injections. While commonly associated with cosmetic treatment, Botox can also help to treat bruxism related TMJ issues. Botox weakens the muscles that tighten to cause grinding and clenching. This prevents these issues, alleviating your pain.
  • Orthodontic treatment: Treating tooth and jaw alignment issues by correcting your bite can improve your TMJ symptoms.
  • Oral surgery: In severe cases, surgery can help to alleviate your pain and restore your quality of life.

With the right treatment, the health of your TMJ can be restored, giving you back your quality of life. For more information, and to schedule your consultation, call Mettler & Griego Family Dentistry today at (623) 562-5230.