Popping and cracking when you chew, smile, or speak, pain in the jaws, a tension that gets in the way of you using your mouth properly—all of these symptoms can be related to TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint) disorders.
TMJ are joints that are located at the jawline on both sides of your mouth, and they make it possible to open and close your mouth smoothly while you speak, chew your food, or even swallow. Made up of tendons, the jawbones, and a ball-and-socket joint, TMJ problems can make a lot of everyday processes painful and uncomfortable. TMJ disorders are common, but they are also a very treatable condition.
At Cassara Dental in Mountain View, CA, we have professionals who are highly familiar with treating patients with TMJ disorders. Take a look at some of the things you should know about TMJ disorders and how you may be able to get some much-needed relief.
A Look at Common Causes of TMJ Disorders
TMJ disorders can have several underlying causes, and the condition may not always be readily linked to a specific cause. Some of the most common causes of TMJ disorders include:
- Dislocation of the TMJ currently or previously
- Prior injury to the TMJ or surrounding joints and tissues
- Congenital tooth and jaw alignment problems
- Arthritis of the TMJ
- Teeth grinding or stress-related jaw clenching
Understanding the cause of the disorder can definitely help with treatment. However, treatment can be attempted even if the precise cause of the disorder is unknown.
How TMJ Orders Are Diagnosed
If you or your dentist suspects that you have a TMJ disorder, you will be examined closely to determine if there is indeed an issue. Before a proper diagnosis can be given, the dentist may:
- Perform X-rays to get an in-depth look at the joints
- Do evaluations and check for popping, clicking, and other telltale signs of the condition
- Complete a series of tests in which you are required to move your mouth in certain ways or directions
Once you have been diagnosed with a TMJ disorder, your dentist can create a plan of treatment moving forward.
Ways to Alleviate TMJ Disorders On Your Own
TMJ disorders can range from very mild to very severe, and alleviating the symptoms of the disorder will rely heavily on how severe your case is. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends trying treatments at home first unless your issues are severe. If you have a mild TMJ disorder, you may be able to do certain things at home to help with the symptoms you experience, such as:
- Switching your diet to include softer food choices most of the time
- Using heat packs or warm compresses to relieve pain or discomfort
- Stopping gum chewing or habits like biting or chewing your fingernails
- Utilizing relaxation techniques to relieve tension and stress in the jaws
In some cases, implementing these small changes at home can help relieve some symptoms you have been experiencing due to suspected TMJ. However, obtaining a professional opinion from a dentist who specializes in TMJ treatment is always a good idea.
Further Treatments Available for TMJ Disorders in Mountain View, CA
If the minimal treatments you try at home do not work, and the dentist does diagnose you with a TMJ disorder, further treatments will be discussed as possible solutions. Your dentist may recommend:
- Wearing a mouth guard at night to prevent teeth grinding
- Doing muscle training exercises for your TMJ to strengthen the area
- Taking prescription medications to relieve the tension, such as anti-inflammatory medication for arthritis or muscle relaxers to relieve tension
The most invasive form of treatment for TMJ may involve surgery, which will involve resetting the jawline so you have a more even bite and less stress on the jaw muscles. Orthodontic treatment may also be used to correct bite issues that could be contributing to the TMJ disorder.
Reach Out to Us at Cassara Dental for Information About How We Can help
Living with TMJ disorders can be all-out frustrating and uncomfortable, but usually, a TMJ dentist in Mountain View, CA can offer treatment that will help. If you have problems with what you suspect to be a TMJ disorder, reach out to us at Cassara Dental for professional advice.