If you suffer from a disorder of the temporomandibular joint (TMJ), you know the pain that it can cause when you chew or even speak. What causes TMJ pain? What can a TMJ specialist do to help correct the problem? Keep reading to learn about the benefits of TMJ dentistry.
What Causes TMJ Pain?
There is no one single cause of TMJ disorders. However, there are a few things that commonly results in TMJ pain. These include:
Injuries and Accidents – If you have experienced head or neck trauma, TMJ pain may be a residual effect of joint, muscle, and tissue damage.
Teeth Grinding – When a person grinds his or her teeth, a great deal of pressure is placed on the TMJ. This can result in chronic pain.
Arthritis – Some people experience TMJ arthritis which damages the cartilage.
Stress – While stress may result in a chronic condition like grinding of the teeth, sometimes it may also result in temporary pain due to clenching of the jaw. Over time, the result can be chronic TMJ pain.
Disc Misalignment – The jaw is basically a hinge joint. If the disc becomes misaligned or erodes, pain will result.
Unfortunately, it often is unclear what is causing TMJ pain. How can you get help from TMJ dentistry?
TMJ Dentistry Treatments
A TMJ specialist will begin by trying to identify the cause of your pain. This will include an examination as well as a detailed patient history that could reveal the cause (such as an injury or accident). Since the primary issue, regardless of the cause, often goes back to an abnormal bite, treatment will focus on correcting the bite.
When it comes to relieving pain, there are many different options. For example, while the condition is being treated, your dentist may prescribe an NSAID to help you deal with the pain. Once the problem is corrected, you should no longer require the medication.
Sometimes the underlying problem requires orthodontics to realign a person’s bite. In extreme situations, especially when a serious injury has occurred, TMJ Arthroscopic surgery may be needed to correct the position of the jaw.
In many cases, a mouth guard or other corrective appliance can be used to fix a TMJ misalignment without orthodontics or surgery. While these devices may take time to correct the problem, they are non-invasive and often a far less expensive option.
Does It Work?
In short: Yes! The prognosis for TMJ disorders is good, and TMJ dentistry can help relieve your pain in most cases. The treatment methods listed above can correct many of the underlying causes of TMJ pain. So rather than trying to live with TMJ pain, see a specialist to determine if TMJ dentistry is right for you.