Your mouth is made up of several parts, many of them allowing you to perform basic everyday functions such as eating and speaking. Of these parts, the temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is responsible for all movements of your jaw. If the joint becomes irritated, however, all motions of your mouth become difficult, even painful. At National Dental Oakland Gardens, we can help to treat the causes of your TMJ pain and alleviate your pain and discomfort.
ISSUES WITH YOUR TMJ
There is no one specific issue that contributes to problems with your TMJ. Often referred to as TMJ disorder, there are a variety of different issues that can affect the joint. No matter what irritates the joint, it can lead to serious pain that can greatly interfere with your normal, daily activities.
Issues that can cause pain in your TMJ include:
- Facial trauma. Direct facial trauma near the joint can irritate it. You may also experience trauma that causes whiplash, and your jaw may temporarily become dislocated.
- Bruxism. When you grind and clench your teeth, you put an excessive amount of pressure on your teeth, as well as on the joint.
- Misaligned teeth and jaw.
- Sleep apnea.
- Arthritis (osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis).
ARE THERE ANY OTHER SYMPTOMS?
There are several symptoms that can accompany issues with your temporomandibular joint. Some of these symptoms, however, often lead those with TMJ disorder to think that they have an entirely different issue, so they don’t seek dental treatment right away:
- Jaw/facial pain.
- Difficulty and pain while eating.
- Trouble opening your mouth.
- Clicking and popping sounds while you eat.
- Your jaw may lock (open or shut).
- Constant headaches or earaches.
HOW IS TMJ DISORDER DIAGNOSED?
Diagnosing the cause of your TMJ troubles requires an oral exam. During this exam, we visually inspect the inside of your mouth, checking for issues with your teeth. We will also look at your face, assessing the alignment of your jaw.
Along with a visual inspection, we will also take digital images (digital X-rays or the ICAT machine). With these images, we will be able to see everything that is happening under your gums, as well as with your jawbone.
TREATMENT OPTIONS FOR YOUR TMJ
The treatment we recommend for you will depend upon the findings of our exam. There are multiple types of treatment available:
- Medication. Some patients find relief with over the counter medications. However, this is not the case for everyone. If OTC medications are not working for you, we can prescribe something stronger.
- Night guards. If you suffer from bruxism, a night guard is designed to hold your jaw in alignment. It also provides a cushion for your teeth and jaw, absorbing the impact of the pressure exerted when you grind and clench.
- Botox injections. Botox is commonly associated with cosmetic surgery. It can also be used to treat TMJ disorder. When injected, Botox weakens the muscles in your jaw, so less pressure is exerted, allowing the joint to rest and heal.
- Orthodontics. If your teeth or jaw are misaligned, orthodontics can help to bring everything back into alignment, relieving the pressures on your joint.
- Surgery. Surgery is an option that is saved until all other options are exhausted. Surgery options range from arthroscopic to open jaw.>
If your jaw is causing you pain that is interfering with your day to day life, it could be due to issues with your TMJ. Call National Dental Oakland Gardens today at (718) 407-0574 to schedule your appointment.