TMJ Treatment

TMJ Treatment
Your temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, is a sliding hinge joint that connects each side of your jawbone to your skull. TMJ disorders can be quite painful, causing tenderness, difficulty eating, and even lockjaw. The first-rate dentists at Southern Connecticut Dental Group work in the diagnosis and treatment of TMJ disorders. From their two convenient office locations in Southbury and Ansonia, Connecticut, they’ve helped many patients from in and around New Haven County find relief from TMJ-related pain.

TMJ Treatment Q & A

What causes TMJ disorders?

A healthy, injury-free TMJ allows your jaw to move smoothly and without pain. Many TMJ disorders are caused by either damage to the cartilage that cushions the joint from the jawbone, or by damage to the small, shock-absorbing disc that sits between the joint and the bone. TMJ problems can also be caused by:

  • Chronic grinding or clenching of teeth
  • Cartilage damage from arthritis
  • Erosion of either disc
  • Joint damage sustained by an impact
  • Forceful movement of a disc

Even though the exact cause behind TMJ pain isn’t always clear, certain factors can increase your risk of developing a problem. Having any type of arthritis, including rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis, is one such risk factor, as is having had a jaw injury in the past. Simply being female can also increase your risk: Women are four times more likely than men to develop a TMJ problem.

What are the symptoms of a TMJ disorder?

While the symptoms of a TMJ disorder depend on its specific cause, common symptoms include:   

  • Pain or tenderness anywhere in the jaw
  • Achiness or tenderness in the face
  • Aching pain in or around one of both ears
  • Acute pain located in one or both of temporomandibular joints
  • Difficulty eating, or pain while chewing

If the disorder is particularly severe or goes untreated for too long, more severe symptoms may develop, including:

  • Limited jaw movement
  • Locking of the joint, making it hard to open or close the mouth
  • Painful clicking during mouth movement
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • A change in the way teeth fit together

How is TMJ diagnosed and treated?

Proper diagnosis is a key step toward proper treatment of any TMJ disorder, and the dentists at Southern Connecticut Dental Group are specially trained to check your joints and muscles for tenderness. They’ll spot any other signs of the condition, too, including clicking, popping, and difficulty moving. Although TMJ treatment often includes prescription medications — including pain-relievers, anti-inflammatories, or muscle relaxants — lifestyle interventions may be most beneficial for many patients. Your dentist can show you jaw exercises specifically designed to strengthen and stretch your jaws, and may recommend that you switch to a liquid or soft diet to rest your jaws. Your dentist may also ask you to:

  • Avoid chewing gum
  • Use ice packs or moist heat for pain
  • Use a bite guard if you grind your teeth at night
  • Find a way to reduce stress or anxiety
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