TMJ is the acronym often used to refer to TMJ disorder. It stands for temporomandibular joint, the place on each side of your head where your lower jaw attaches to your skull. This joint can become strained or misaligned, leading to pain and limited range of motion. Problems with the temporomandibular joint are categorized as TMJ disorder.
If you’re experiencing any of the symptoms of TMJ disorder, you may be wondering who you should contact for treatment. Who treats TMJ? Here’s what you need to know.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint is a hinge-type joint. The bone of the lower jaw meets together with the skull with a liquid filled disk between the bones as a cushion. Ligaments connect the jaw bone to the skull, stretching to allow movement of the jaw. When the joint is working properly, you can open and close your mouth with ease and without pain.
When the joint becomes strained or misaligned, it can make it more difficult to open and close your mouth, often resulting in pain when you move your jaw. This is called TMJ disorder.
Common Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The following signs and symptoms are an indication that TMJ disorder is present:
- Pain in the TMJ. If you have pain in the temporomandibular joint that persists or comes and goes, you may have TMJ disorder.
- Headaches. TMJ disorder often causes headaches, especially in the temple region of the head.
- Pain in the jaw when chewing, talking, yawning, etc. If you have pain when you move your jaw in any way, especially when you open really wide to yawn, it may be an indication of TMJ disorder.
- Popping or clicking sound when you open and close your mouth. When the joint is swollen or the muscles are tensed it can cause the ligaments to make a popping or clicking sound as they slide over the bones. If the disc has slipped out of place the sound could come from the bones grinding together.
- Limited range of motion when opening and closing your mouth. You may find that it is difficult to open your mouth very wide or that you can’t close your mouth completely so that your teeth meet together.
- Locked jaw. In severe cases of TMJ disorder your jaw may lock shut completely.
Have TMJ Symptoms? Call a Dentist
TMJ disorder is most often diagnosed and treated by a dentist. Dentists specialize in the health and function of your mouth, including your jaw. Problems with the jaw are often related to the teeth, as each can affect the other. Misaligned teeth and bite patterns can cause TMJ disorder by putting extra strain on the joint. TMJ disorder can cause you to grind or clench your teeth together, which can cause premature wear and cracked teeth. Dentists can provide TMJ treatment and repair any damage caused to the teeth.
How is TMJ Disorder Treated?
There are a few different ways to treat TMJ disorder:
- Home care. Many cases of TMJ disorder can be treated on your own at home. Apply ice to the joint to reduce swelling. Take anti-inflammatory medications to relieve pain and inflammation. Eat soft foods and rest your jaw as much as possible to allow the muscles, ligaments, and other tissues to heal.
- Professional treatment. If home treatment doesn’t provide relief, contact a dentist. Dentists can provide an accurate diagnosis and additional treatment such as injected steroids, Botox, or bite splints.
- Surgical treatment. When all other treatments fail to provide relief of your TMJ symptoms, surgery may be necessary.
Dental Wellness Team Provides TMJ Treatment
If you’re looking for professional treatment for TMJ disorder, the Dental Wellness Team can help. We can assess your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment to relieve your pain and restore full range of motion in your jaw. Treatment for TMJ disorder is one of the many general dentistry services we provide.