Maintaining excellent oral health involves more than just your teeth and gums. Your jaws play an important role in the structure and appearance of your smile. A problem with your jaw joint, or TMJ, may result in a wide variety of painful and inconvenient symptoms that affect your day-to-day life. At Elite Dental of Natick, we specialize in the treatment and correction of TMJ disorders, also known as TMD, to get your oral health back on track!
What Is Your TMJ?
Your TMJ, or temporomandibular joint, is a complex series of muscles, ligaments, discs, bone, and cartilage. It is one of the most complex joints in the body due to its unique and powerful function. The TMJ produces a sliding hinge action that allows you to move your lower jaw forward, backward, and side-to-side.
Unfortunately, the complexity of the TMJ makes it vulnerable to certain complications. Any issue that affects your TMJ may prevent you from being able to properly chew, speak, yawn, or otherwise use your jaw. We typically use the blanket term TMD to refer to this wide variety of TMJ problems.
Signs, Symptoms, and Causes of TMD
The exact cause of your TMD may be hard to pinpoint initially. Many TMJ issues share symptoms with other disorders like bruxism (teeth grinding). Your pain may also be caused by a combination of factors, which include genetics, facial trauma, and arthritis.
Many times, the pain and discomfort associated with TMD are temporary and treated with home remedies. However, recognizing the signs and symptoms can help you prevent a TMJ problem from worsening, usually with professional treatment. Some of these symptoms include:
During your initial consultation, will perform a diagnostic exam to help determine the cause of your symptoms. In most cases, TMD is caused by disk erosion, disk misalignments, or damaged cartilage due to injury or arthritis.
Treating TMJ Disorders
The painful symptoms of TMJ disorders may dissipate on their own over time, or require professional intervention. As a dental office that specializes in TMD, we may recommend some treatments to help alleviate your symptoms. The most popular of these involves an oral appliance known as a night guard or splint.
Many people with TMD tend to clench their jaw during sleep. A night guard can help keep your lower jaw in the proper position, preventing you from clenching your jaw and wearing down your enamel. Patients that clench their jaw during the day may also benefit from a splint, which is worn close to full-time.
Other dental solutions include restorative appliances and oral surgery, although surgery is only recommended for severe cases of TMD. For patients with minor to moderate TMD, we may suggest certain relaxation techniques, especially if your disorder is related to stress or anxiety. Talk with Dr. Bethany Polnar during your initial consultation to learn more about your treatment options!
Schedule a Consultation Appointment
If you have experienced any of the signs or symptoms listed above, you may need treatment for your TMJ. To learn more call (508) 319-9339, and schedule a consultation appointment now!