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What Is TMJ?

Many experience this but don't really know what it is. Let's take a closer look at TMJ.

Many experience this but don’t really know what it is. Let’s take a closer look at TMJ.

Our patients in and around Nashville who have TMJ usually come to us quite concerned about the condition, especially if it’s the first time they’ve experienced the signs and symptoms, which include radiating pain in the jaw and/or neck, in addition to stiffness, painful clicking, and limited movement of the jaw. Some patients even experience a change in the way their upper and lower teeth fit together, which can be disconcerting to say the least.

Define TMJ

TMJ is a temporomandibular joint and muscle disorder, which affects the joint that connects your lower jaw (or mandible) to the bone on the side of your head. This joint gets regular use when we eat, talk, and yawn. The pain associated with TMJ comes and goes in most patients—with or without treatment—though some sufferers may experience longer TMJ flare-ups.

The first thing we like to tell our patients is that they’re not alone. An estimated 10 million Americans suffer this condition, with more women affected than men. Trauma to the jaw is sometimes to blame for TMJ’s onset, and there’s been research about a link between female hormones and TMJ, but unfortunately not much is known about the cause of this disorder. Luckily, there are numerous treatments that have been proven to work wonders for our patients at West Meade Dental.

Treatments for TMJ

Though our dentists are all set to help you with a variety of tools (which we’ll discuss in just a minute) to ease TMJ, you may be happy to learn that there are things you can do on your own to ease the discomfort you feel. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends the following:

  1. Eat soft foods
  2. Apply an ice pack
  3. Avoid exaggerated jaw movements like yawning and chewing gum
  4. Relax and reduce stress in your life
  5. Engage in gentle jaw stretching exercises

As for how those of us at West Meade Dental can help relieve the symptoms of your TMJ, we may look at using any of the following treatments:

  • Pain medications
  • Stabilization splints
  • Botox injections
  • Surgery
  • Implants

The way we choose to address your TMJ will depend on the severity and frequency of your symptoms.

If you live in the Nashville area and are worried you may have TMJ, make an appointment with us today. We are also available to address any other dental concerns you may have or to give you a cleaning.

Teeth Aren’t Meant to Grind

To Brux or Not To Brux?

Believe it or not, we didn’t make that word up. That would be Shakespearean, and well…we’re not in the business of crafting words—we’re happy with crafting confident smiles. Bruxism is actually the term used to describe the condition of grinding your teeth, and it turns out it’s not really a choice at all.

Most teeth grinding takes place during sleep. If this only happens once in a while, there’s not a lot to worry about, but if you’re a chronic tooth grinder, it can lead to big problems: damaged teeth, TMJ or other jaw conditions, headaches, and more. The tricky thing about being a teeth-grinder is that it’s pretty hard to catch yourself in the act. There are, however, symptoms to watch for that might indicate you have a problem with grinding your teeth at night.

Grinding one's teeth is also called bruxism. Stress and anxiety can make it worse.

Grinding one’s teeth is also called bruxism. Stress and anxiety can make it worse.

A dental examination can help determine if you are suffering from bruxism. If you notice that your teeth look worn down or chipped, or that your jaw is tired when you wake up in the morning, this could indicate a problem. Other symptoms include headaches, earaches, or facial pain. Sometimes teeth grinding can also cause your tooth enamel to wear down and expose deeper layers of your tooth, which will also increase sensitivity.

There’s a lot of debate about what causes this condition, but there are plenty of things that are on the suspect list. Not surprisingly, stress and anxiety top the list as number one suspects. A lot of Americans suffer from stress, which leads to tension everywhere in the body, and the jaw can be one of the many places afflicted by stress tension. Some types of antidepressants can have side effects that cause bruxism. Problems with sleep can be an issue as well—teeth grinding can be related to disrupted sleep cycles. There are also physical problems that play a part—alignment issues, such as malocclusion, or missing and/or crooked teeth.

If you think you might be grinding your teeth, it’s important to see a dentist. There are steps we can take to stop the problem before it causes too much damage. The jaw is a powerful tool and when clenched it can apply up to 250 pounds of pressure. Think of the things you can crack with that amount of pressure!

At West Meade Dental, we’re able to offer not only a variety of services, but many options for paying for your service, as well. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. Keeping up with dental examinations and hygiene can determine a lot of risk factors before they become a real problem.

By Shelley Sigur | Tagged with: Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment
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