Many people suffer from pain in the temporomandibular joint (TMJ). These problems are often referred to as TMJD – temporomandibular joint disorder. A dentist can help diagnose TMJ problems and find a solution to help provide pain relief and restore the normal use of your jaw.

About the Jaw Joint

The two jaw joints are the most complex in your entire body. They provide you with several types of motion that you need for talking and chewing. When there is an injury or other problem, you may experience one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Pain in the jaw joint
  • A clicking or popping in the jaw
  • Earache or pain in the ear
  • Pain while chewing or difficulty chewing
  • Limited ability to open or close your mouth
  • Headaches
  • Chronic face pain
  • Sore or stiff jaw muscles.

Possible Causes of Jaw Pain

TMJ problems can be caused by many problems. They may include:

  • Injury to the jaw
  • Stress
  • Grinding or clenching teeth
  • Arthritis
  • Poor posture
  • Teeth not aligned
  • Excessive chewing of gum.

Other causes may be environmental, hormonal (women experience TMJD more often than men), or genetic. Because of the proximity of the back teeth to the jaw joint, dental problems may be the cause of some jaw pain. Solving those problems may bring the relief you need.

Teeth grinding is often a cause of TMJD. Many people do this in their sleep and are not aware of it. A dentist can reveal whether or not you have this habit by the condition of your teeth. It also is an indication that you may have sleep apnea – which needs treatment.

Diagnosis of TMJ

Because of the variety of possible causes, there is no specific test to determine it. Most likely, you can expect to need a scan with an x-ray, CT scan, or MRI. An arthroscope (a thin tube with a camera) may also be used. These scans will be used to look at your teeth, jaw, the joint, and at the tissue around the joint.

Treatment

Since there are several causes of problems with the TMJ, there are a variety of solutions and treatments. At home, you may find that jaw exercises will help, along with some over-the-counter medications. Massaging the joint can also help bring some relief. You may also apply heat or ice to the painful area. You also want to avoid foods that require a lot of chewing or are sticky. Stress management techniques may also help.

Other treatments may involve:

  • Corticosteroid injections (or Botox)
  • Arthrocentesis
  • Open joint surgery
  • Joint replacement

In some cases, other treatments may be needed that will realign the jaw or repair damaged teeth that can cause a misalignment.

Making regular dental appointments can help to prevent these problems. It would enable the dentist to detect possible causes of future problems and treat them before a problem occurs.

The friendly dentists at Bright White Dental can help to diagnose and treat TMJ problems. The dentists are thorough in their examination and can provide several ways to help you get pain relief. Contact them today for a consultation and get started toward the pain relief you need.