The sophisticated ball and socket temporomandibular joints, known as TMJ, hinge your jaw, allowing you to open your mouth, speak and make certain facial expressions. These joints work in concert with a series of muscles and ligaments.
Each joint also has a small disk of cartilage, that allows some slip so you can chew and grind food. Grinding your teeth at night on a regular basis can increase the tension on ligaments and jaw muscles. It can also cause chronic inflammation in the joint itself. This can lead issues like arthritis, abnormal muscle tension and pain.
Early symptoms of TMJ disorder are often related to a pain when opening your mouth, or biting down. This might also be accompanied by soreness in the jaw early in the morning and a persistent dull ache near the ears or temple.
During your regular dental checkup, your dentist will examine your mouth for any signs of TMJ disorder. Sometimes there are no obvious outward signs, so make sure to let them know about any symptoms you’ve experienced.
If your dentist suspects, you have TMJ disorder they will often refer you to a physician or other specialist to confirmation diagnosis. Most common treatment strategies call for using a two-step approach.
Basic lifestyle modification is usually the first step of treatment. This includes things like eating soft foods, and placing heat packs on the joints. If this doesn’t improve the problem in short order, treatment might advance to include medications, and rehabilitation exercises. You might also need to wear a custom night guards while you sleep.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at 626-796-3700 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.