Pain, clicking sounds, or difficulty moving your jaw could point to temporomandibular joint disorders, or TMJ. This condition occurs when pressure – either from bruxism or a malocclusion – is exerted on the jaw, tightening the muscles in that area and creating uncomfortable symptoms.
TMJ will worsen without treatment. If these symptoms sound familiar, you should ask your dentist for an oral health evaluation. Your medical history, as well as finding the cause of your TMJ, can help a dental professional determine the best strategy to alleviate your jaw pain and other symptoms. Dr. Shannon French, a dentist practicing in Bladenboro, NC, describes three ways that your dentist can treat your TMJ.
Treatment Options for TMJ
Stress Relief Exercises
In many cases of TMJ, the causation stems from a habit of grinding or clenching teeth, a behavior that dentists call bruxism. The action of grating top teeth against bottom teeth can often occur unconsciously, but it can create significant pressure that can strain your jaw muscles.
Bruxism can be initiated or exacerbated by stress, so dentists will encourage their TMJ patients to practice stress relief activities. They can also recommend special exercises for the jaw that will loosen the muscles around this joint, alleviating uncomfortable TMJ symptoms.
Another common treatment that dentists recommend for patients with TMJ is an oral appliance. Dentists can create a customized mouthguard based on impressions of your unique smile.
They will suggest that patients who tend to grind or clench their teeth wear this appliance at night. It can absorb pressure from bruxism that may occur as a patient sleeps, stopping TMJ.
A mouthguard can prevent a variety of TMJ symptoms, including chronic headaches. This can also help patients who grind their teeth avoid tooth breakage or other types of dental damage. Choosing a personalized mouthguard from your dentist, rather than from a store, can ensure that the appliance fits properly and will not slip out of place during the night.
If a patient has crooked teeth or a misaligned bite, this could create pressure on the jaw and lead to TMJ. If your dentist determines that this is the cause of your TMJ symptoms, they will likely recommend teeth straightening treatment with orthodontics.
Your dentist can also align your smile with clear braces, a cosmetic dental solution. These plastic aligners are made according to your unique dental structure and smile aesthetic goals.
You wear these aligners as instructed by your dental professional for 22 hours each day. A straight smile can mean unnecessary pressure is removed from your jaw and you no longer experience soreness and other discomforts near this joint.
Treatment for TMJ and Other Dental Concerns in Bladenboro, NC
Bladenboro Family Dentistry offers treatment for TMJ and other dental problems to patients in Bladenboro, NC. Dr. French specializes in general, cosmetic, and restorative dentistry, including periodontal care, for patients of all ages. To schedule a consultation with our practice, contact our staff online or reach us by phone at 910.469.4592.