Every person is born with two temporomandibular joints, known as TMJ. It is the most frequently used joint in your body and facilitates many of our most basic functions, used repeatedly for opening and closing the mouth, chewing, swallowing, yawning, breathing, talking and coughing. These joints connect the jaw with the skull, right in front of each ear, and you can feel it by placing two fingers on the side of your face while opening and closing your mouth.
The symptoms of TMJD can vary, which makes it harder to diagnose. Commonly, people with this problem will experience pain when they yawn, chew, or open their mouth wide. They may even hear a click or pop as they open and close the mouth.
Other symptoms include tender muscles around the jaw, difficulty in opening the mouth (or not being able to at all), and jaw locking. TMJ disorder can even cause headaches, earaches and neck pain.
TMJ dysfunction is a very common problem that can unfortunately remain undiagnosed for long periods of time.
Fortunately, TMJ disorder is not seen as a particularly serious condition. While uncomfortable, there are treatment options from trained professionals.
Your treatment plan will largely depend on the cause behind the disorder. It will usually involve a combination of therapies to relieve the pain and treat the underlying issue.
For example, in cases where TMJD is caused by a misaligned bite or tooth problems, your dentist will be the one to treat the problem. If you are clenching your teeth, your dentist may create a splint you can wear to stop your teeth from grinding. This splint is a custom-made piece of acrylic that is molded specifically to the shape of your mouth to keep your teeth apart and relax the jaw. While it's usually worn at night, you can also wear it during the day. Further, your dentist may suggest treatment options to move the teeth and correct your bite, which would cross into the field of orthodontics.
Other treatment options include heat or ice packs to relieve the muscle spasms behind the pain, or a diet of softer foods in smaller bites to lessen the work your jaw needs to do while eating. If the tooth grinding is caused by stress, you can spend time with a psychologist to decrease anxiety and help you relax.
In more advanced cases, you may require surgery to repair the joint.
TMJ dysfunction can be very debilitating to your well being. If you suffer from any of the above symptoms or would like more information, why not schedule an appointment to explore the issue. Alternatively, speak to our professional staff on (02) 9958 0400 for more guidance and information on the subject.
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Along with Dental Care Network™ we are offering the Corporate Dental Program, a zero-cost, zero-admin employee benefit scheme which provides you with exclusive benefits for dental treatment if you are an employee of one of our partnered corporate programs.