TMJ

Have you noticed any unusual facial pain or tenderness in your jaw lately? Does your jaw pop, lock up, or crackle when you chew, talk, or yawn? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you may have temporomandibular joint dysfunction, also known as TMJ or TMD.

A large percentage of the population is affected by some type of TMD either temporarily or chronically. There are over 3 million reported cases in the United States every year. It can manifest as popping or clicking of the joints, tiredness while chewing, locking of the joints while opening or closing, headaches, migraines, and in the more severe and obvious cases pain in or around the TMJ.  
 
The causes for TMD can also include any of the following: a history of trauma, a malocclusion (or unhealthy bite), subconscious clenching or grinding, stress, sleep apnea, among others. When the symptoms are obvious, most people self-diagnose and decide to seek treatment to relieve the pain.
 
As part of the initial comprehensive exam, Dr Maria Bustamante and her team will screen and evaluate for any sign or symptom that could indicate a dysfunction on the joint or hyper-activation of the muscles of mastication. The purpose is to know that the whole system, oral and structures around the mouth, function in harmony without long-term detrimental effects.  If a concern with TMJ is obvious to our patient, a more detailed and thorough evaluation would take place in order for us to properly address and treat the condition.

What Causes TMJ?

Temporomandibular disorders usually result from inflammation of the joint or muscles of mastication. This can be due to excessive jaw clenching or jaw movement, which most of us do subconsciously during the day or in our sleep. Other common contributing factors to TMJ issues include stress, gum chewing, teeth grinding and trauma. The good news is there are many forms of TMJ treatment that can help relieve your jaw pain.

Maxillofacial concept  x-ray jaws

TMJ Treatment Options

Some options for treating your jaw pain are:  anti-inflammatories or prescription muscle relaxants, practicing relaxation techniques to reduce stress, the use of custom-made oral appliances; botox; and in very severe cases, open joint surgery. It’s important to seek out treatment for your TMJ since the longer it goes untreated the more damage it can cause to your upper and lower teeth, your jaw bone and surrounding muscle groups. For example, if you are grinding your teeth from side to side all night long, every night, your teeth can become worn down and damaged, without you even being conscious of it.

If you’d like to learn more about your TMJ or what treatment options are available for you, call our Seven Star Dental team today for a consultation!