You can visit a general dentist for diagnosis and treatment if you are experiencing signs of temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). Symptoms include jaw clicking, headaches, tenderness, and pain around the jaw area. TMJ pain can be disruptive to normal living, so it is advisable to visit the dentist as soon as possible for help.
An overview of TMJ
The joints connecting the skull to the lower jaw are complex and can move in many directions. They enable normal opening and closing of the mouth and oral cavity functions, such as eating and talking. When there is an issue with the temporomandibular joint and it cannot function normally, other problems will soon develop. Depending on the specific situation, patients may experience mild to severe pain. If the condition is not treated promptly, it will only worsen over time.
Diagnosing and treating TMJ disorder
Factors that contribute to TMJ disorder include injury to the jaw (including one that causes dislocation), jaw clenching and teeth grinding, crooked teeth, and arthritis. The general dentist can diagnose and treat someone for temporomandibular joint disorder. The cause of TMJ disorder is what determines the nature of the symptoms experienced by patients. During routine checkups, the dentist examines the jaw muscles and teeth to identify any signs of the condition.
The dental professional understands how the jaw functions and can therefore provide multiple effective treatment options to patients dealing with TMJ pain. TMJ disorder can be caused by jaw and teeth misalignment, so the dentist might recommend orthodontic treatment to realign the teeth and jaw. A teeth-straightening treatment can relieve many TMJ symptoms in many patients. The following are common treatment options.
Custom dental appliance: If the dentist discovers that the TMJ disorder is caused by teeth grinding or clenching, they may recommend a custom oral device. Also called a mouthguard or occlusal guard, this appliance prevents the upper teeth from directly hitting against the lower teeth. Aside from relieving TMJ symptoms, the device will also reduce wear on the teeth, which often causes other dental issues, such as tooth fracture.
Hot and cold packs: This option involves applying hot or cold packs over the jaw joint to reduce pain. Patients may be asked to maintain this routine around four times daily to relax the tense jaw muscles, which are often the main sources of pain.
Relaxation techniques: Patients can learn relaxation techniques to reduce or prevent pain in the joint area. The techniques focus directly on tense jaw muscles, reducing the tension significantly and consequently alleviating pain. Other options for treating TMJ disorder include using anti-inflammatory or muscle-relaxing meds.
Visit a general dentist
Dealing with TMJ pain is not fun. It can be debilitating and affect normal oral functions. However, remember that the general dentist can evaluate the condition and recommend options to relieve the pain. If you have questions or concerns, be sure to contact the dental office to book an appointment.
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