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TMJ Disorder and Treatment

Your temporomandibular joints are two very important joints in your mouth. These joints are located on each side of your mouth, right where your lower jaw meets your skull. They perform many important tasks, allowing you to open and close your mouth, eat, speak, and move your lower jaw from side to side. When these joints are healthy, they work without you even really being aware of them. However, if they become injured or irritated, every movement these joints make can become excruciating. Crafton Dental can help.

What is TMJ?


TMJ is a common term used to refer to your temporomandibular joints. It is also a term that is used to refer to the issues affecting the health and functioning of these joints, which significantly impacts your quality of life. Also called TMJ disorder or TMD, TMJ can interfere with the basic functions of your mouth, making even the slightest movements difficult and excruciating.

What Causes TMJ Disorder?


There are several different issues that can lead to TMJ. One of these issues is bruxism. Bruxism is a term that describes the grinding and clenching of your teeth. When you have bruxism, there is excessive pressure placed on your teeth, your jaw, and the temporomandibular joints. The constant pressure can result in irritation and inflammation of the joints, making it difficult to move your mouth at all. Bruxism can be caused by issues such as stress and poor tooth alignment.

Another common cause of TMJ is facial trauma. Traumatic facial injuries can cause the joints to become dislocated, which can then cause tiny tears that lead to irritation and inflammation. Even whiplash, or very temporary dislocation, can cause this issue. Other causes of TMJ include issues such as osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Symptoms of TMJ


The symptoms of TMJ generally start mild and barely noticeable. The longer the root cause goes untreated, however, the worse the symptoms become. Common symptoms include such things as:
•  Pain in the temporomandibular joints. You may also experience facial pain, including pain around the eyes and in the forehead.
•  Swelling in the joints and the face.
•  Clicking, popping or grinding when you open or close your mouth.
•  Temporary lockjaw.
•  Chronic headaches or earaches.

Treatment Options for TMJ


There are several treatments for TMJ. The type of treatment recommended depends upon your specific situation and the cause of your discomfort. If your pain is only minor and does not significantly interfere with your quality of life, you may be able to manage TMJ with home remedies. These remedies include over the counter medications, stress relief tactics, and eating a TMJ friendly diet.

If the cause of your TMJ is bruxism, you may be recommended a night guard. This is an oral device that is worn in your mouth while you sleep. It resembles a sports mouth guard in appearance and is made from impressions of your mouth. It functions to absorb the impact of grinding and clenching, keeping the pressure off of your jaw and the joints. By alleviating the pressure, your symptoms are alleviated.

In some cases, oral surgery may be recommended. Oral surgery is typically reserved for severe cases of TMJ or if all other treatment options have failed.

Treating TMJ is essential for eliminating your pain and improving your quality of life. For more information, and to schedule your appointment, contact Crafton Dental at (410) 381-5030 today.
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