TMJ Problems and How You Can Prevent Them

What is TMJ?

TMJ is an acronym for the Temporo Mandibular Joint, better known as the jaw joint.  The TMD gives us the ability to speak, chew, yawn and several other actions. It is a complex joint that allows movement forward, backward and side to side. Today’s post will discuss TMJ Problems and How You Can Prevent Them.

What is TMD?

TMD or Temporo Mandiular Joint Disorder is a common problem  involving the Temporo Mandibular Joint. This disorder can cause pain in your jaw joint and in the muscles that control jaw movement. Some individuals might also experience the jaw locking open. Other symptoms may include difficulty opening or chewing, headaches, clicking or popping or muscle spasms.

Causes

The causes of TMD can be medically or dentally related. Trauma, arthritis or some connective tissue disorders can be to blame. In the dental field we most often encounter tooth misalignment or clenching and grinding to be the causative factor. Dental causes are comment, therefore, scheduling an evaluation with one of our dentists is a good place to start.

Treatment

Treatments for dentally related TMD vary. Some options may include repositioning teeth into a proper bite with braces or Invisalign, oral appliances, anti-inflammatories and ice/ heat, or physical therapy. Once a dentist has diagnosed your TMD it can usually be managed at home. Infrequently, a TMD specialist may be needed if conventional and at home treatments are unsuccessful in managing discomfort.

Custom made hard or soft oral appliances are the most common and conservative method of treatment. Customization is a crucial element necessary for comfort. Usually the soft appliances treat TMD caused by clenching. Hard appliances are usually used for individuals that grind.

A traditional hard appliance has a “U” shape and incorporates all the teeth in one arch. Although they work well, they tend to be a bit difficult to get used to. The NTI appliance is the preferred oral appliance at La Grange Dental Associates. This hard appliance is smaller and more comfortable to wear. It can be fabricated to fit the upper or lower teeth.  It also is the only non- medicinal treatment that is FDA approved for the treatment of migraine headaches.

 

 

 

 

 

Both types of appliances succeed in separating the teeth which reduces strain on the jaw joint. They both protect the teeth from wear. Often times people will grind their teeth at night, therefore, they are unaware of the behavior. We routinely see wear on teeth indicative of grinding behavior without symptoms.

Prevention

TMD problems can cause a great deal of pain, permanent damage and cost. Once significant wear has occurred to the teeth, the only solution would be numerous crowns or full mouth reconstruction to restore the lost tooth structure and reestablish a proper bite.

Early treatment of TMJ problems and how you can prevent them is critical.

  • Address conditions before pain begins. Reposition teeth into a proper bite with traditional braces or Invisalign.
  • Limit chewing gum and avoid habits such as biting nails
  • Use relaxation techniques to reduce stress.
  • Use hot compresses, ice and over the counter anti-inflammatories if early symptoms occur.
  • Visit La Grange Dental Associates for an evaluation as soon as possible.

 

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