A number of debilitating symptoms, some of which may not seem to be connected with an oral health issue, can be caused by temporomandibular joint disorder. Commonly referred to as TMJ Disorder or TMD, the condition can be responsible for pain and discomfort in a number of facial and body areas, which can ultimately have a significant effect on your livelihood. Here at Aesthetic Smiles of New Jersey, our experienced dentists are concerned with your overall well being in addition to the health of your teeth and gums.
We offer a number of customized treatment options for TMJ Disorder that can reduce symptoms and improve your day-to-day life.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint is the connection between the upper and lower jaw, aiding in your ability to chew, bite, speak, and yawn. Issues such as jaw misalignment, arthritis, teeth grinding or clenching, a breakdown of cartilage, simple overuse, injury, or other factors which can affect the joint may lead to TMJ Disorder. The condition is experienced by millions of individuals all over the world. Since many people experience symptoms of TMJ Disorder that do not initially seem related to the jaw, the problem may progressively get worse until seen and diagnosed by an experienced dental professional.
What are the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
TMJ Disorder can be the cause of many different kinds of symptoms, including:
- Chronic facial pain
- Jaw clicking/popping
- Difficulty chewing or speaking
- Difficulty closing or opening the mouth
- Ringing in the ears
- A feeling of numbness in the arms/fingers
- Pain in the shoulder, neck, and/or back
TMJ Disorder Treatment Options
Fortunately, there are a number of advanced treatment options that can help to alleviate the symptoms of TMJ Disorder. These include:
This essentially involves an intricate examination of your bite to see if the teeth are fitting together naturally and functioning well. If not, a bite adjustment may be the best way to reduce stress on the temporomandibular joint and diminish pressure that’s being placed on the teeth. In some cases, a polishing of the teeth can allow for a better relationship between the teeth, the muscles surrounding the mouth, and the temporomandibular joint. In others, dental treatments such as porcelain veneers or correction of teeth misalignment with Invisalign® may be recommended.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as Ibuprofen, can temporarily alleviate the muscle pain, facial pain, headaches, and swelling commonly associated with TMJ Disorder. Other medications more specific to your unique condition may be prescribed by one of our dental professionals, depending on your unique needs.
Customized oral appliances
Mouthguards and nightguards are often used as a preliminary treatment for TMJ Disorder to reduce stress on the jaw. The appliances are fitted over your upper and lower teeth to reposition the lower jaw into a proper biting position, as well as decrease the effects of teeth clenching and grinding.
Restorative or reconstructive dentistry
Biting irregularities are often the cause of TMJ Disorder. In these cases, application of dental crowns, bridges, or orthodontic appliances can often effectively treat the condition by guiding misaligned teeth into a proper position and correcting bite problems.
Bite and jaw therapies
This may include using low-level electrical currents, radio wave therapy, or deep heat to relax your jaw joint and facial muscles. These treatments can ease pain and relieve soreness that may be experienced in the temporomandibular joint.
In some cases, an oral surgeon may need to perform surgery to relieve the symptoms of TMJ Disorder. Depending on your unique condition, there are many types of surgery that may address the root cause of your symptoms. In the event that this treatment is necessary, one of our dental professionals will discuss your options in more detail during a consultation.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How do I know if I have TMJ Disorder?
Because the symptoms of TMJ Disorder often overlap with other conditions, an examination from one of our dentists can help you determine whether your temporomandibular joint is causing or exacerbating the issue. This exam may include checking your jaw joints for clicking or popping sounds, running tests to ensure your jaw is biting properly, or taking X-rays in order to gain a more accurate view into whether there is a structural disorder within the joint.
What if I don’t treat my TMJ Disorder?
If you are experiencing long-term symptoms of TMJ Disorder, pain and discomfort may continue or get worse until treated. Consulting with one of our dentists can be an effective way to gauge whether action should be taken in your particular case.
What other factors may lead to TMJ Disorder?
Many times, TMJ Disorder develops because of your jaw’s anatomical structure. Surrounding muscles or existing scar tissue may be interfering with your bite, causing some of the facial pain and bodily discomfort characteristics of the condition. Low-level infections and auto-immune diseases have also been known to cause TMJ Disorder, as well as mental or physical stressors.
How can I get temporary relief from the symptoms of TMJ Disorder?
Many self-help remedies exist to temporarily alleviate symptoms of TMJ; however, these should not be considered long-term treatment options that can address and correct the cause of the condition. Applying heat and cold packs to the side of the face and temple can reduce discomfort if you are experiencing pain in the area surrounding the jaw. Additionally, depending on where your symptoms lie, massage therapy may provide temporary relief. Limiting pressure on the jaw and avoiding foods that require intensive chewing – such as taffy, gum, and carrots – can also minimize pain for some individuals.
If you are diagnosed with TMJ Disorder, one of our skilled dentists will talk with you about the best treatment options for your unique needs. He will then create a completely custom-designed treatment plan designed to successfully treat the condition and reduce your symptoms.
For more information on TMJ Disorder and the treatment options available at our practice, or if you would like to schedule a consultation, please contact Aesthetic Smiles of New Jersey.