What Patients Should Know About TMJ Disorders
There are many complicated structures in the mouth that need to be carefully accounted for and addressed. This goes for the teeth, the gums, and even the jaw joint. The number of structures in play is the reason why
we offer comprehensive general, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services at our practice. This allows patients to experience the best in dental health and wellness.
Right now, we would like to look at some of the basics with regard to TMJ disorders, which is a commonly misunderstood problem.
About the Temporomandibular Joint
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is one of the most complicated joints in the human body. It is the juncture between the cranium/skull and the mandible. The reason for its complexity are the are many different motions that the mandible needs to make in order for people to bite, chew, speak, laugh, and so forth, and the way that the muscles, bone, nerves, cartilage, and other structures interact with one another.
When the jaw joint does not function as it should, this is known as a TMJ disorder, or TMD. We should add that TMJ disorders are colloquially referred to as TMJ.
The Causes of TMJ Disorders
The most common causes of TMJ disorders include the following:
- Bruxism (Teeth Grinding) - The clenching, gnashing, and shifting of the teeth places major strain and pressure on the jaw joint, which can lead to TMD
- Malocclusion (Crooked Teeth) - One of the most common causes of bruxism, malocclusion does not allow the teeth to find a resting position, and it can lead to issues with the bite that place unnecessary strain on the structures of the jaw
- Injury to the Jaw - When a person suffers any kind of trauma to the jaw area, it can affect the overall alignment and health of the structures of the jaw
- Arthritis - Arthritis can have a serious negative impact on a person's jaw movements and jaw function
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorders
The most common symptoms of TMJ disorders are as follows:
- Clicking and popping of the jaw
- Limited jaw movement
- Jaw pain
- Facial fatigue
- Facial swelling
Non-Invasive Therapies for TMJ Disorders
There are numerous restorative dentistry treatments that can address even the most serious dental health problems without requiring surgery or involved therapies. For instance, orthodontic care can be used to remedy bruxism and malocclusion, which addresses some of the root causes of a TMD. A night guard (i.e., a mouthpiece worn at night that keeps the upper and lower teeth apart) can also be crafted to reduce the amount of pressure on the jaw joint caused by bruxism. Relaxation techniques and a mixture of hot and cold compresses may also prove helpful in relieving symptoms in patients.
Advanced Treatments for TMJ Disorders
When jaw injury, arthritis, or serious dysfunctions of the structures of the mouth are the cause of a TMJ disorder, more involved therapies may be required for proper care. Injections of cortisone may prove helpful for some patients, for instance, and minimally invasive surgical procedures can be performed to help cleanse the jaw joint and relieve pain. The last resort will be the use of open surgery.
During your consultation at our practice, we will be sure to tailor your treatment to meet your needs.
Learn More About Restorative Dental Care
If you would like more information about TMJ disorders and how they can be addresses, be sure to contact our Brooklyn Heights cosmetic and restorative dentistry practice today. The entire team here looks forward to meeting you in person and helping you achieve optimal dental health and wellness.