Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ for short, is a common condition characterized by teeth grinding, varying degrees of jaw pain, severe headaches and intermittent ringing in the ears. These symptoms can be debilitating and oftentimes, they can interfere with daily activities.
TMJ affects a lot of people although most of them aren’t aware that a dentist will be able to treat the root cause of TMJ. Pain relief is comes first when treating TMJ since dentists regard a patient’s comfort and general well-being as primary considerations in the practice of their profession.
A dentist can test and diagnose if a patient is suffering from TMJ. Likewise, he or she can come up with a plan to immediately treat the root causes of the disorder.
Why TMJ needs to be treated
Symptoms of TMJ can get worse, especially when a patient experiences prolonged or unanticipated stressful situations. Neck pain and dizziness can result from intense outbreaks of TMJ.
A “bad bite” or misaligned teeth is often a common cause of TMJ and dentists can often rectify the condition by adjusting or realigning the teeth. The severe jaw pains, headaches and dizziness caused by TMJ can be averted without necessarily having the patient undergo costly and agonizing surgical procedures.
Nighttime teeth grinding or bruxism is common among TMJ sufferers and this habit can wear away teeth structure and lead to more serious dental issues in the future. When left untreated, TMJ can lead to eroded jawbones and even tooth loss. For these reasons, it is vital that you get an accurate diagnosis from your dentist in case you are experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ.
How TMJ is treated
While misaligned teeth or a bad bite is the most common cause of TMJ, displacement of the meniscus cartilage arising from trauma or injury can also be possible. The dentist will first conduct a thorough examination of the jaw area and assess a patient’s bite. Diagnostic x-rays and a review of the patient’s history will also be conducted in order to arrive at an accurate diagnosis, after which the appropriate treatment plan will be recommended.
Relief for TMJ can be provided in a variety of ways. Dentists will often recommend a bite analysis to determine the position of the lower jaw in relation to the upper jaw. Computerized occlusal (bite) analysis systems are now being used by some dentists to capture images that are sent to a computer for immediate analysis.
Specially molded bite guards can be prescribed to address teeth grinding during sleep. A dentist will also recommend some relaxation techniques that can help fight the effects of stress. Muscles relaxants may also be prescribed as a last alternative.
Teeth realignment to eliminate a bad bite is also an ideal option in treating the root cause of TMJ. Besides addressing the underlying reason for the disorder, realignment can also improve the overall appearance of teeth. A teeth realignment procedure will correct irregularities in the way the upper teeth come into contact with the lower teeth. In most cases, this will require adjusting natural teeth and/or new tooth restorations. Teeth realignment is not a painful procedure and dentists have successfully performed this option on a lot of TMJ patients.
It is recommended that you discuss the available options extensively with your dentist to arrive at a most suitable treatment plan for TMJ disorder or dysfunction.