Without the temporomandibular joint in your jaw, you couldn’t open your mouth to eat, speak, laugh, yawn, or sneeze. To say that it serves an essential function is an understatement. When you have pain and other common symptoms, dentists call it temporomandibular joint disorder (TMJ). It’s important to seek TMJ treatment as soon as possible if you exhibit any of these symptoms:
- Clenching or grinding of teeth, which you may not realize that you’re doing
- Frequent pain in your jaw, neck, and head
- Clicking or popping sounds when you open your jaw
- Your jaw temporarily locks when you open it
- Some of your teeth no longer touch when you chew food
- Sensitive, worn, loose, or broken teeth
- Arthritis-like pain in other areas of your body
Treatment of TMJ Disorders
At O.C. Dental Specialists, we always use the most conservative treatment approach first before we recommend that you see an oral surgeon. Your dentist may recommend one of several home remedies to relieve the pain and other symptoms of TMJ. The most common one is for you to wear a mouthguard at night to prevent you from grinding or clenching your teeth. This is a very effective form of treatment since many people are unaware that they do either of these things while they sleep.
You may also find relief by applying heat or ice to your jaw and resting it as much as you can. We recommend eating soft foods as you recover, reducing stress, maintain good posture, and holding your top and bottom rows of teeth apart when you’re not using them to eat.
If these methods fail to provide relief, your dentist will speak to you about possible oral surgery, restorative dental work, or orthodontics. We consider oral surgery a last resort for TMJ disorders when the patient’s jaw has become dislocated and he or she can’t open it. Severe degeneration of the jaw could be a reason to recommend oral surgery as well.