Many Americans will experience a dental disorder at some point in their lives. For example, it’s estimated that more than half of all American adults have experienced periodontal disease, commonly called gum disease. In addition, however, someone Americans may experience some rare dental disorders. One of the rarest disorders out there is TMJ.
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What is TMJ?
The maxillofacial region is the area of your face that includes your jaws and teeth. They are essential for essential functions such as talking and eating. The temporomandibular joints (TMJ) are the joints that hinge your lower jaw to the rest of your skull. These joints allow you to move your jaw up and down, side to side, and back and forth.
TMJ disorders are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the muscles and joints that open and close your mouth. TMJ disorders can also cause clicking, popping, or grating sounds when you move your jaw.
What are the symptoms of TMJ?
The most common symptom of TMJ is a pain in the jaw, face, or neck. The pain may be dull or sharp and can come and go. You may also feel pain in your ears or have headaches. Other symptoms include:
- Clicking, popping, or grinding sounds when you move your jaw
- Jaw that gets stuck or locked in place
- Trouble chewing or pain when chewing
- Swelling on the side of your face
- Difficulty opening or closing your mouth
- Pain when you yawn or chew gum
How is TMJ diagnosed?
TMJ is diagnosed by taking a medical history and doing a physical examination. Your dentist or doctor will ask about your symptoms and how long you’ve been experiencing them. They will also ask about your medical history, including any previous head, neck, or jaw injuries.
Your dentist or doctor will also examine your mouth, teeth, and jaw. They may use a special instrument to check for alignment problems in your teeth and jaws. They may also order X-rays to identify any issues with the bones in your jaw.
What causes TMJ?
The exact cause of TMJ is unknown, but there are some theories. The first reason is the lack of teeth.
Lack of Teeth
People can lose teeth at any moment in their lives. It can be due to an accident, gum disease, or tooth decay. When someone loses teeth, the bones in the jaw begin to shrink. This change in shape can stress the TMJ and lead to pain and dysfunction.
The second reason is arthritis.
Arthritis is a common condition that causes inflammation in the joints. There are many different types of arthritis, but the two most common ones affecting the TMJ are osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. Osteoarthritis is a degenerative type of arthritis that occurs when the cartilage between the bones breaks down. Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that causes chronic inflammation in the joints.
The third reason is bruxism.
Bruxism is a condition where you grind or clench your teeth. This can happen during the day or at night. Bruxism can put a lot of stress on the TMJ and lead to pain and dysfunction.
The fourth reason is stress.
While stress doesn’t cause TMJ, it can make the symptoms worse. For example, when stressed, you may clench your jaw or grind your teeth. This can lead to more pain and discomfort.
How to Treat TMJ
TMJ doesn’t have a known cure, but there are ways to treat it and the discomfort that comes along with it. One way is to get your missing teeth replaced immediately.
As stated earlier, the loss of teeth can cause the bones in your jaw to shrink. This change in shape can stress the TMJ and lead to pain and dysfunction. Getting a teeth replacement service can ensure that any missing teeth are replaced. By doing this, your jaw isn’t under as much stress, and you’re less likely to experience pain or dysfunction.
A splint is a custom-made mouthguard that you wear at night. It helps keep your teeth from grinding or clenching. A mouth guard is a less expensive option you can buy at the store. However, it’s not as effective as a splint and may not fit.
Specific stretching exercises can help relieve pain and dysfunction associated with TMJ. These exercises help to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your jaw. They also help improve your range of motion.
In some cases, you may need surgery to treat TMJ. This is usually only done if other treatments haven’t worked or the pain is severe. Surgery is typically a last resort.
TMJ can be a painful and debilitating condition. However, there are ways to treat it and find relief. If you think you may have TMJ, talk to your dentist or doctor. They can help diagnose the condition and create the right treatment plan for you. Through these treatments, you can live a pain-free life.