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.

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