Is a TMJ Disorder Affecting Me?

November 8, 2013

What is the temporomandibular joint (TMJ)?

The temporomandibular joints (TMJs) act as a hinges that connect your lower jawbone to your temporal bone. They are ball-in-socket joints that allow you to chew, talk, and yawn with ease. TMJ disorders are a group of dysfunctions that cause pain and discomfort in the jaw joints and surrounding muscles. Dr. Brad Greenfield offers a variety of treatment options for TMJ disorders in our Lake Orion, MI dental office. There is no one cause of TMJ disorders. TMJ disorder can present with several symptoms. Grinding your teeth, dislocating your jaw, arthritis, and frequent jaw clenching are all causes of TMJ disorders. Sufferers of TMJ disorders deal with pain that can last from days to years. Some symptoms associated with TMJ disorders are tenderness of the jaw, pain in and around your ears, difficulty chewing, locking of the joints, jaw clicking or popping, headaches, and facial pain.

What are the causes of TMJ disorders?

The exact causes of TMJ disorders are not always clear. However, most cases fall into just a few categories: myofacial, jaw dislocation, malocclusion, and inflammation of the joints. Myofacial pain is pain that affects the muscles in your jaw. Internal derangement of the jaw occurs when the jaw becomes dislocated. Malocclusion occurs when the upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly. Arthritis is the group of inflammatory joint disorders that can affect the temporomandibular joints.

Is there a test for it?

TMJ disorders have some signs that are also associated with other dental issues. The dentist will examine your temporomandibular joints to determine if the pain and discomfort you are experiencing directly relates to TMJ disorder. Panoramic x-rays are a tool your dentist may utilize to get a better look at your jaw and jaw joints.  TMJ disorders can happen to anyone, but they are most common in females age 20-40 years old.

What are treatment options?

There are many treatments that can assist in relieving symptoms. Jaw stretching exercises can relax the muscles around the joints, which can deter locking of the joints. Taking medication can reduce muscle pain and swelling. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent you from grinding your teeth. An oral splint for TMJ can reposition the jaw joints. Surgery is a rare treatment for TMJ disorders, and considered only after exhausting all other treatment options. These are just a few of several methods your dentist can use.

If you are tired of chronic jaw pain, and want better quality of life, call 248-693-6213 to schedule an appointment with Dr. Brad Greenfield in Lake Orion, MI today.

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