The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) connects the jawbone with the skull, by a hinge-like piece of cartilage and a ligament. The diverse movements this joint can make allow the jaw to perform functions like chewing, swallowing, and talking. Even a small issue can cause this joint to stop working properly. TMJ disorders (TMD) have many causes, and the surrounding muscles play a role as well. Medication can be used to control the pain, but there are better long-term solutions for TMJ pain. Conservative treatment involves the use of a dental device to reduce pain and often lead to long-term recovery.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
- Teeth Grinding and Clenching
- Frequent Headaches
- Discomfort When Chewing and Speaking
- Limited Ability to Open Mouth
Diagnosing and Treating TMJ Pain
TMD has some telltale signs that make it relatively simple to diagnose. For example, when TMJ disorder is caused by tooth-grinding, teeth typically show signs of excessive wear and tear; sometimes this happens when jaw-clenching is your main TMD symptom. Improper jaw alignment can be diagnosed with x-ray or digital imaging and are used to determine the best course of treatment.
Conservative Treatment Options
When TMJ pain is caused by stress or improper alignment of the jaw, these problems can be corrected with the use of a customized dental device.
Occlusal guards are used to treat jaw-clenching and teeth-grinding, both of which tend to occur most often when the person is unaware of it, particularly while asleep. An occlusal guard is an acrylic device, similar to a mouth guard, which is worn over the upper or lower teeth. The occlusal guard provides a soft, smooth surface that prevents further damage to teeth, and reduces or eliminates TMJ pain as well.
Custom-Made Splints are needed when TMJ pain is caused by improper jaw alignment. A more specialized device orthodontic device is usually necessary. This appliance supports the jaw in its correct alignment and is worn daily, for a period of time that is prescribed by your dentist. You may need to wear this device most of the day, depending on your case.
For non-invasive, conservative treatment of TMJ pain in Jackson, MS – call the dental office of Drs. Michael T. Tramel & Mary Tison Brown.