TMJ disorder is a term used to describe problems related to the temporomandibular joints that hinge your jaw. These sophisticated ball and socket joints allow you to open your mouth, chew your food, speak and also enable some facial expressions.
A small disk of cartilage cushions each ball and socket allowing a small amount of slip in the joint. This is what allows you to chew and grind food. If you grind your teeth at night, the tension caused by ligaments and jaw muscles can put a great deal of pressure on these disks. This can lead to a host of problems, including arthritis, abnormal muscle tension and pain.
Early symptoms of TMJ disorder includes pain when opening your mouth, or biting down hard. It can also include soreness in the jaw early in the morning and a persistent dull ache near the ears or temple.
At your regular dental checkup, your dentist inspects your mouth for potential signs of TMJ disorder. If you have experienced any symptoms, be sure to let them know so they can take a closer look.
In most cases if your dentist suspects that you have a TMJ disorder issue they will refer you to a physician or other specialist to confirmation diagnosis. Treatment options will vary depending on the severity of the problem, most physicians advocate a two-step approach that employs lifestyle modification and soothing the muscles with heat packs.
If these techniques don’t show improvement they might prescribe medications, night guards and rehabilitation exercises.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at 818-766-5246 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.