Temporomandibular joints, more commonly known as TMJ are the joints that hinge your jaw, allowing you to open and close your mouth, chew you food and speak. The two ball and socket joints are rather sophisticated. They comprise a series of muscles, ligaments and a disk of cartilage. This allows you to chew and grind your food as well as speak and even influences some of your facial expressions.
There are several potential causes of TMJ disorder including arthritis, alignment issues, dislocation, and grinding your teeth. The underlying cause and severity of the problem will greatly influence your treatment options. As a general guideline the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends a two-stage approach to treatment.
The first stage involves simple lifestyle choices like eating softer foods, treating discomfort with heat packs or using a custom fitted night guard to manage night grinding your teeth. When these treatment options are exhausted, your physician will turn to exercises and rehabilitation techniques.
This often includes exercises to strengthen jaw muscles, or medications to help relax the jaw and mitigate inflammation issues.
If your TMJ disorder is caused by alignment issues with your teeth, the specialist might recommend braces, aligners or a dental contouring procedure. Over time as your teeth come into alignment the pain and discomfort in the TMJ region should subside.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at 801-756-0900 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.