A TMJ dentist is a dental professional who focuses on managing and treating the temporomandibular joint disorder. Typically, this type of dentist is one who undergoes general dentistry education and training, but they continue their studies about the temporomandibular joint and how it can negatively impact one's oral health.TMJ disorder refers to the dysfunction that…
How a General Dentist Treats TMJ Disorder
TMJ (temporomandibular joint dysfunction) affects over 3 million people in the US, according to the Mayo Clinic. This joint acts like a moving hinge and connects the skull to the jawbone. This joint is what allows your mouth to open and close.
Sufferers from the disorder deal with pain and discomfort in many ways depending on the patient and the severity. You can suffer from this disorder for years and only suffer from minor symptoms.
In severe cases, the jaw can “lock.” This is very painful and, in some cases, requires surgery to repair. You can also try applying a heat compress to your jaw. The heat could cause the muscles to relax and loosen, allowing your jaw to close.
How will a dentist treat my TMJ?
If your dentist diagnoses you, there are several treatments they may recommend as an alternative to surgery. They could recommend pain relievers, bite guards and even physical therapy. All these options will help to ease the painful symptoms.
Severe cases will cause your jaw to painfully “lock.” Your jaw will stick in one position, and you cannot move it at all, which will require surgery to realign.
If your jaw does ever “lock,” try to remain calm and apply a warm compress for at least 30 minutes, then remove the heat and try to relax and massage your jaw muscles.
Signs and symptoms to look for
There are quite a few different symptoms to look out for to determine if you have the disorder.
- Jaw tenderness
- Difficulty chewing
- Facial pain
- Clicking of the jaw
Your dentist will evaluate you, so please be sure to let them know right away if you think you have any of the above symptoms. You want to be diagnosed as soon as possible.
What causes this disorder?
This disorder can affect the jaw and the surrounding muscles and ligaments around the jaw joint. This disorder can affect anyone for many reasons.
- Suffering any trauma that affects your jaw or facial bones
- You may have an improper bite that has affected you for years
- Wear & tear overtime on the joint
Some patients develop this dental disorder for no reason at all. If you know the signs to watch out for, you have a better chance of getting treated. Your dentist will only recommend surgery as a final option.
TMJ is a medical issue that can be treated. It will not go away unless you have surgery. Your dentist will be able to help you deal with the symptoms and give you exercises to do that will also help prevent your jaw from “locking.”
Contact your dentist
Always discuss any TMJ problems or concerns with your dentist at your routine checkups. You want to catch any issues early enough for treatment to be effective. This may lead to surgery, but your dentist will help prevent that by prescribing you medications and exercises.
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