Your temporomandibular joints, more commonly known simply as the TMJ, are two joints in your mouth. They are located on each side of your face, right where your lower jaw meets up with your skull. These ball and socket joints have discs in the middle of them, which function to absorb the pressures your jaws place on them. When the joints are healthy, they function without you even knowing they are there. However, issues can arise that can cause serious complications. At Sylvan Heights Dental, we can help to diagnose the cause of your issues and provide you with the right treatment with a TMJ evaluation.
What is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder is a term that refers to some different issues that affect the health and functionality of your temporomandibular joints and the attached bones, muscles, and ligaments. When you have TMJ disorder, basic functions like eating, speaking, and even simply opening your mouth, can become difficult and painful.
Assessing Your Symptoms
When you notice pain in your jaw and TMJ, it is important to schedule an appointment at our office right away. We begin by asking you about the symptoms you are feeling. Common TMJ symptoms include:
|Jaw and joint pain. You may also notice facial pain as well.
|Swelling in your jaws or TMJ.
|Pain and difficulty using your mouth.
|Grinding or gritting your teeth.
|Your jaw locks temporarily.
|Clicking, popping, or grinding.
|Headaches or earaches.
Not only do we ask you about the symptoms you are experiencing, but we also ask about how often they occur, whether they are constant or intermittent, how bad the pain is, and what makes the pain worse or better.
Examining Your Mouth
After going over your symptoms, we examine your mouth. We look over your teeth to assess wear patterns and check for any damage. We evaluate your bite, the alignment of your teeth, and the alignment of your jaw. We check to see how wide you can open your mouth and check for pain in tenderness in your jaw, as well as your jaw and your neck.
In addition to a visual examination of your mouth, we also take diagnostic images. These might include digital x-rays or other scans, which will enable us to see the areas of your mouth that cannot be seen with the naked eye. We can see the roots of your teeth, your jawbone, muscles, and your joints. These images will allow us to better assess the extent of your condition, which then enables us to determine the best treatment possible to restore the health of your mouth.
How is TMJ Disorder Treated?
There are many different treatment options available for treating TMJ disorder. The types of treatment recommended will depend upon how severe the condition is as well as what is causing your symptoms in the first place. Treatments include:
|OTC pain relievers.
|Practicing stress relief. This may include breathing exercises, yoga, or meditation.
|A nighttime mouth guard. This is an oral appliance that is worn over your teeth while you sleep.
|Orthodontics. Correcting alignment issues can help to alleviate TMJ disorder.
If you are experiencing pain in your jaw and TMJ, we can help. Call Sylvan Heights Dental at (503) 297-1471 to schedule your TMJ evaluation today.