Dental health is about more than just your teeth — among other areas, it also covers your jaw. The most common jaw problem is TMJ, which stands for temporomandibular joint disorder. This occurs when the joints become misaligned or otherwise stop working correctly. We diagnose and offer treatment for all patients suffering from TMJ.
The following symptoms suggest you may be suffering from TMJ:
- Pain in your jaw, neck, or face, especially when chewing
- Stiffness in your jaw
- Change in bite
Causes of TMJ
TMJ tends to happen when a piece of cartilage in the joint moves out of position. This can be due to an injury, a dislocated jaw, arthritis, grinding of the teeth, or misalignment of your teeth or jaw. There is no evidence to suggest that braces or other orthodontic treatment causes TMJ.
If you think you may have TMJ, schedule an appointment sooner than your next checkup. This will allow us to diagnose the problem and start treatment immediately. We will look for signs including irritation, inflammation, and clicking noises. We will also check the mobility of your jaw to see if it can move in each direction properly. We may need to X-ray your jaw to see the joint in greater detail.
Treatment for TMJ tends to be simple. It includes holding a hot or cold compress to your face, switching to a temporary diet of soft foods, taking an over-the-counter analgesic, and limiting jaw movement — for instance, you should avoid chewing gum and stop biting your nails. We will also teach you exercises to stretch your jaw muscles.
If TMJ is caused by grinding your teeth at night, we will make you a custom mouthguard. This will also solve other problems, like headaches and worn-down teeth.