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Montgomery Dental Care
TMJ Treatment in Montgomery, OH
You may experience difficulty chewing and more prevalent tooth decay. In a situation in which you lose a tooth or multiple teeth, it can cause TMJ problems. When TMJ problems are apparent, you can develop headaches and other forms of discomfort. To minimize the possibility of problems, your missing teeth should be replaced immediately. However, if trouble has already set in, then it is important to seek treatment for your TMJ complications.
What is TMJ?
TMJ, also referred to as TMD, is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. It describes problems with the joint that connects yours to your skull. The movement of these joints can be felt by placing the fingers on each side of the face, directly in front of your ears, and opening and closing the mouth.
People who experience TMJ typically have pain in the general area of the jaw joint, which may present as headaches or radiate into the neck, shoulders and inside the ears. They may be unable to open their mouth widely; the jaw may even "lock" in an open or closed position. There is often a feeling of grinding or clicking that accompanies jaw movements like talking or chewing. Some TMJ sufferers notice that their upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly.
There are several conditions thought to cause or contribute to TMJ. These include injuries like whiplash, teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), arthritis or stress. TMJ is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 20 to 40, and women are more likely to have TMJ than men.
Dentists diagnose TMJ through a combination of diagnostic imaging and physical examination; the movement of the jaw and the bite will be evaluated and compared with X-rays, CT scans, or MRI images.
There are several treatments for TMJ that can be performed at home. Both over-the-counter and prescription medications can alleviate pain and promote muscle relaxation; alternating heat and ice to the affected area can also be helpful. Eating soft foods during "flare-ups" helps to give the jaw a much-needed rest. Holding the mouth properly - teeth slightly apart - relieves unnecessary pressure. Stress-relief therapy like yoga or massage may also help the patient achieve a more relaxed overall state.
Treatment with an occlusal guard
Since your teeth, jaw joints and muscles are all involved treatment for TMD will vary. Typically, your treatment will require several phases. The first goal of treatment is to relieve the muscle spasm and pain as well as to establish the normal range of motion of the lower jaw. Next, your dentist will work to correct the way that your teeth fit together through a temporary device known as an orthotic or splint that is worn over the teeth until the bite is stabilized.
With an occlusal guard, you can find relief from jaw pain and headaches caused by temporomandibular joint disorder. This device is custom-made to fit each person’s unique bite and works by activating a nerve reflex that reduces muscle tension and keeps your back teeth from touching during sleep. As the tension from clenching is suppressed, migraines, dental damage, and other symptoms are diminished. Other types of dental guards are also effective for reducing jaw pain and headaches. Your dentist will help you determine the best oral appliance for your specific needs and your best outcome.