Did you know that dentists can do more than check your teeth and fill cavities? Our dentists are also trained to check for other health issues like sleep apnea, gum disease, and TMJ disorders.
TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint and refers to the small, flexible joint on either side of the face. This joint is the primary connection between our jawbones and the skull.
These two little joints do a lot of work. Since they are the main point of contact, they stretch in all directions as our jaws move, and are subject to quite a bit of stress, as a result. They are also somewhat exposed, on the side of the face. Any injury or trauma to the face has a good chance of injuring the TMJs as well.
Problems with the TMJs are known as temporomandibular disorders, or TMDs. There are a wide variety of causes for TMDs, including:
- Blunt force trauma can often happen in the course of vehicle accidents or sports injuries. The TMJ location makes it easy to hit.
- Arthritis causes inflammation in joints all over the body. The TMJ is no exception.
- Bruxism refers to chronic teeth clenching or grinding. There are many reasons that bruxism can happen, and all of them have the potential to over-stress the TMJ.
- Tension stress is the common cause for quite a few health problems. Working in stressful environments, or dealing with difficult life situations can dramatically increase muscle tension, including in the jaw.
- Jaw misalignment can injure the TMJ by causing it to move in ways that it was not meant to.
Any of these things can stress the TMJs, causing tenderness, earaches, slight swelling, difficulty chewing, joint lockage, popping in the joint, and pain throughout any of the related muscles.
How We Can Help
The best way to treat a TMD is to find out what exactly is causing the joint to be stressed. Once that has happened, we can make a treatment plan that’s specific to you. Each plan will remove these sources of stress, thus allowing the joint a chance to rest. There are a number of different ways to accomplish this. Give us a call to find out more about how TMJ treatments can help you.