September 4, 2018
Most of us take our temporomandibular joint (TMJ) for granted and don’t give it a second thought. We simply open and close our mouth whenever we want to eat a meal, have a conversation or laugh out loud. Unfortunately, people who have temporomandibular disorder (TMD) often wind up thinking about their TMJ every day. It can be hard not to if you’re experiencing chronic pain, stiffness, or a locked jaw. Fortunately, TMJ therapy can bring relief to anyone suffering from these symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about how TMD develops in the first place and what you can do about it. You’ll be glad you did!
How Does TMD Start?
The temporomandibular joint is the only joint in the body that’s bilateral, which means that the left and right side have to work in perfect harmony with one another. This also makes it the most complicated joint in the body, so it’s easier for something to go wrong with it.
There are multiple factors that can cause TMD, including:
- An injury to the head, neck or jaw
- Long-term nighttime clenching or grinding
- Bite problems such as an overbite, underbite or open bite
- Poor posture
Since everything in the head and neck is closely connected to the TMJ, it makes sense to look at how other these other structures might be involved, so that each patient can be treated as a whole. This approach can be much more effective than simply treating the joint by itself!
How Is TMD Diagnosed and Treated?
If you suspect you might have TMD, your first step is to schedule a consultation. Your dentist will examine your teeth and jaws and examine how your teeth come together. They’ll also closely evaluate your medical and dental history and ask you in-depth questions about your symptoms.
If you’re diagnosed with TMD, you might benefit from the following types of TMJ therapy:
- Wearing a bite splint on the lower teeth to gently move the jaw into the right position.
- A TENS unit might be used to soothe the tissues and provide pain relief.
- Adjustments can be made to the teeth or existing dental work to solve bite alignment issues.
- Orthodontic treatment can reposition the teeth to improve the bite and reduce the stress on the TMJ.
Living with jaw pain negatively impacts your entire life. But, with TMJ therapy, you can get relief from your symptoms so you won’t have to spend another day thinking about your TMJ!
About the Author
Dr. Brenda Gong is a general and restorative dentist who has pursued advanced training in GNM (Gneuromuscular Dentistry). With this training, she’s become an expert in issues that can be difficult to treat, including TMD. If you have any additional questions about TMJ pain, she can be reached via her website or at (919) 639-3911.
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