When you have TMJ (which is short for temporomandibular joint) disorder, you become acutely aware of how important your jaw health is. It’s something that people don’t think about much. You talk, you eat, you yawn, and there’s no problem at all. Until there is. The TMJ is a hinge that connects the mandible (or lower jaw) to the temporal bone in your skull. This permits your jaws to move smoothly, both up and down, and also from side to side. And when it is not functioning properly, that’s when you want to call us at Attentive Dental Care. Our Morris Plains dental office can diagnose and treat jaw problems, including TMJ disorder.
The specific cause of TMJ disorder is not always obvious, though sometimes it is caused by an accident that results in damage to the joint. It can also happen due to erosion of the disk, which will lead to it shifting and becoming misaligned. It may also be a secondary issue that is brought on by arthritis. TMJ disorder can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s most likely in women, especially if you’re between 20 and 40 years old. It’s time to be examined at our Morris Plains dental office if you notice any of the following symptoms: pain in or around your ear, general facial pain, tenderness in your jaw, pain while chewing, or any problems with opening and closing your mouth due to the jaw locking up.
Treatment options can vary, depending on the severity of your TMJ disorder. In some mild cases, you may not need any treatment at all. It may simply go away on its own. Other mild to moderate cases respond well to either over-the-counter or prescription-strength pain relievers. Muscle relaxers and sedatives are effective in addressing teeth clenching that occurs during sleep. Other possible solutions that our Morris Plains dental office may recommend for TMJ disorder include bite guards, physical therapy, exercises, and counseling. In the most severe instances, injection might be the best strategy or even surgery. Fortunately, the majority of patients will be able to experience relief without having to resort to invasive methods.