TMJ is often referred to as a painful condition of the jaw. Technically, TMJs are the joints that are located at the back of the jaw. The temporomandibular joints work in conjunction with muscles, ligaments, and nerves to enable the movements necessary for speaking and chewing. TMJs are ball-and-socket joints that enable sliding, and hinging motions. Within the joint is a disc that acts as a shock absorber. When a problem within the jaw or the joints prevents the full range of motion, it is referred to as TMJ disorder.
Causes of TMJ disorder
There are specific conditions that can cause dysfunction in the temporomandibular joints, such as an injury, dislocation, or arthritis in the joints. However, some of the most common factors in the development of TMJ disorder are poor bite alignment and bruxism, or grinding the teeth. In order to plan successful treatment for this condition, we must first identify the cause. We do this with a consultation and discussion of symptoms, as well as a thorough examination.
Treating TMJ disorder
There are several approaches to the treatment of TMJ disorder. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends a number of conservative steps to reduce the stress on the joints. Patients may be encouraged to stop chewing gum and to avoid biting nails. A temporary diet of softer foods can give the joints the opportunity to rest and heal. Pain may be eased with a heat pack or over the counter medication. While home remedies can be helpful, they may not be sufficient to resolve the underlying issue.
At Sun Smile Dental, we look at the potential correlation between dysfunctional joints and the jaw. A bite assessment can show us if teeth are not fitting together properly, thus causing undue stress on joints. If this is the case, orthodontic care may be the appropriate solution. Signs of excessive wear on teeth alert us to a potential grinding or clenching issue. To ease the pressure placed on the joints, a customized mouth guard may be worn. This is typically a night guard worn while you sleep, since this is the time when most people clench and grind their teeth.
TMJ can be a persistent, uncomfortable problem. To improve comfort and function, visit Sun Smile Dental in San Marcos. Schedule your visit at
(760) 993-3185 .