Some estimates suggest that over 10 million Americans currently suffer from TMJ disorder. If you’ve been experiencing jaw pain, it’s possible that you have some form of the condition. As you read further, your dentist in Clintonville explains what the typical symptoms are and how TMJ disorder can be treated. By being better informed and taking the appropriate actions, you can get the pain relief you need and have your oral health fully restored.
What is the TMJ?
The TMJ (temporomandibular joint) is located at the base of the skull, in front of the ear structure. It connects the lower jaw (mandible) and upper jaw (maxilla), acting as a door hinge that allows you to speak and chew food.
The complex consists of a rounded protrusion of the mandible that rests against the skull and a disc-like structure made of cartilage. The TMJ is held together by ligaments that originate from different parts of the head and neck.
The various components involved in the structure make it different from any other joint in the body, allowing the lower jaw to move up, down, forward and back, through a process called translation. While this feature makes the TMJ’s versatile movement possible, it can also be a prime contributor to its dysfunction.
TMJ Disorder Explained
Over time, the TMJ can become fractured, inflamed or sore, which can lead to a limited range of motion and pain that can radiate from the head and neck areas. Some of the indicators of a developing problem are clicking and popping when opening the jaw, earaches and tingling extremities.
Here are some of the scenarios that can make you more susceptible to TMJ disorder:
- Teeth grinding
- Unusual fatigue
- Increased stress
- A change in your bite
If you’ve noticed any of the above contributors, it’s important to bring it to your dentist’s attention. If you’re diagnosed with TMJ disorder, you can receive the treatment you need for a full recovery.
How TMJ Disorder Can be Treated
One of the best ways to catch a developing TMJ issue is to visit your dentist for semi-annual examinations. During the visit, your jaw will be assessed, and if there are any indicators of dysfunction, here are some of the treatment options your dentist may employ:
- Balancing or equilibrating your bite
- Fitting you with a custom-designed bite appliance
- Providing some stress-reducing tips
In addition to the care provided by your dentist, you should avoid chewing gum or attempting to bite into harder foods. It’s also best to only take small bites and move the food from side to side as you chew.
If you’ve been dealing with jaw pain, the sooner you take action the better. With the help of your dentist, you can soon get back to leading a normal life.
About the Author
Dr. Eric Buck is a graduate of The Ohio State University College of Dentistry. As part of his commitment to provide the best in comprehensive care to his patients, he has taken hours of continuing education and maintains membership with several professional organizations, which includes Spear Education. Dr. Buck treats TMJ disorder at Creative Smiles, and he can be reached for more information through his website.