From a mild nuisance to a debilitating chronic condition, TMJ disorders can vary in pain and severity. Fortunately, most cases can be treated fairly easily. Here is some information about the condition, which affects about 10 million Americans.
What causes TMJ?
TMJ occurs when the cartilage and disk surrounding the jaw joint become damaged or displaced. Though it occurs in patients with arthritis, bite problems, or those who suffer jaw fracture or injury, for many patients, the cause is often unclear. Involuntary teeth grinding (bruxism), another common problem, can make TMJ symptoms worse.
Signs and symptoms of TMJ.
People with mild TMJ may experience headaches, along with popping or clicking of the jaw. In moderate TMJ, this may be accompanied by aches and pains in the jaw, face, and ear.
In more severe cases, people may experience shooting pains through the jaw joint and excruciating headaches. In some cases, the jaw will actually slip out of position during sleep, leaving patients unable to talk, eat, or even open their mouths in the morning.
If you experience significant pain or dysfunction, it’s a sign you may need treatment for your TMJ, which is where we come in.
Options for dental TMJ treatment.
As an expert on TMJ treatment, Dr. Files will start by asking you about your symptoms and history, followed by an exam, which may include x-rays, a CT scan, or other diagnostic images.
Initial dental treatment usually involves a custom dental appliance, like a nightguard or bite splint, that can reduce pain and discomfort very quickly and effectively. We may also recommend jaw exercises and self-care techniques, such as ice packs and moist heat, to deal with occasional flare-ups.
We also will take a look at your bite, which can contribute to TMJ problems. If it needs correcting, we may recommend orthodontics or restorative treatments to adjust the surfaces of your teeth to improve the harmony of your bite. These might include onlays, crowns or implants.
Want to find out more? Call our office at 425-885-0008 for a complimentary consultation appointment.