What is TMJ and How Can I Treat It?

Temporo-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ)

Temporo-Mandibular Joint Dysfunction (TMJ) is a common condition that affects a wide variety of people. Our specialists at Boston Center for Oral Health are experienced in the treatment and diagnosing the underlying causes of TMJ.

Recognize the signs and symptoms of TMJ.

If you experience any of the following, you may be suffering from TMJ. Symptoms include but are not limited to:

  • Severe headaches
  • Jaw pain of varying degrees
  • Grinding teeth
  • Intermittent ringing in the ears

These symptoms can be debilitating and may greatly interfere with everyday life.

Why should you treat TMJ?

The most common cause of TMJ is the misalignment of the teeth, often called “bad bite”. It is possible for the dentist to realign the teeth without the need for painful or expensive surgeries. The realignment will stop the pounding headaches, the jaw pain, and the dizziness.

TMJ sufferers report that their symptoms generally worsen during periods of prolonged or unexpected stress and that intense outbreaks of the condition can lead to neck pain and dizziness.

Teeth grinding is particularly common and generally occurs at night. Continuous grinding of the teeth will eventually erode the structure of the teeth and can lead to much more severe dental problems in the future.

Untreated TMJ is one of the prime underlying factors in eroded jawbones and loose teeth. It is important for anyone experiencing the symptoms of TMJ to visit the dentist for an exact diagnosis.

How is TMJ treated?

In order to accurately diagnose TMJ, the following is required as part of a patient's dental/TMJ examination.

  • A thorough jaw examination.
  • Documentation of the patient's bite.
  • X-rays
  • Patient dental history.

After a firm diagnosis has been made, there are several ways in which relief can be provided.

  • A custom-made bite guard can be created to stop teeth grinding during the night. A bite relationship analysis may be recommended by the dentist.
  • The dentist can also provide advice on relaxation techniques which will lessen the effects of stress.
  • As a last alternative, the dentist is also able to prescribe muscle relaxants.

A better option may be to change the shape of the teeth and get rid of the bad bite completely, often called “realignment.” This is especially useful because it alleviates TMJ symptoms and may improve the aesthetic appearance of the teeth as well. Realignment involves adjusting the relationship between how the upper teeth come together with the lower teeth. This may require new restorations and/or adjusting the natural teeth as well. It is not a painful procedure and our dentists have performed realignment with great success for many patients.

To learn more about TMJ diagnosis and treatment or if you are experiencing any symptoms of TMJ, we encourage you to contact our office today or schedule an appointment.

You can get additional information about TMJ by visiting the website of the American Academy of Craniofacial Pain at www.aacfp.org.

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