Disorders that affect the jaw joint or jaw muscles are commonly referred to as TMJ. The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jaw to the temporal bone at the side of your head. The joint and the muscles around it are active as your jaw moves to chew, speak, yawn, or perform other functions.
People often refer to a dentist who has extra training in treating TMJ as a “TMJ dentist.” However, this is not a recognized specialty area, and so there is actually no such thing as a TMJ dentist. Dr. Weiss is a general dentist who has pursued extra training for treating this disorder.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
Several factors that can put stress on the joint and cause discomfort include:
- Damage to the soft cartilage disk between the bones in the joint
- Improper bite
- Jaw misalignment
- Teeth grinding or clenching
What Are the Signs and Symptoms?
A variety of signs and symptoms are associated with TMJ disorder, including:
- A change in the way your upper and lower teeth fit together
- Chronic earaches
- Chronic headaches
- Jaw clicking, locking, popping, stiffness, or pain
- Chronic neck pain
- Ringing in your ears (tinnitus)
How Is It Treated?
Some TMJ issues will resolve with home care and allowing time for the joint to rest. Others may require more professional attention from a dentist with advanced training in occlusion, TMJ function, and complex restorative dentistry. After an examination, your treatment recommendations might include:
- Alternately placing ice and moist heat packs on the side of your face to reduce pain and swelling and help the muscles relax
- Anti-inflammatory medication
- Avoiding chewy, hard, or sticky foods
- Gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises
- Monitoring the resting position of your tongue and jaw to limit clenching and help the muscles relax
- Stress-reduction techniques or exercises
- Reconstructive dentistry
- Orthodontic treatment for a misaligned bite
- An oral appliance to reduce teeth grinding while you sleep at night
Do You Think You Have TMJ?
Dr. Weiss received advanced training in occlusion and TMJ therapy from the Dawson Academy. He has been diagnosing and treating TMJ disorder for more than 15 years. If you think you are suffering from the disorder, schedule an appointment for an exam, accurate diagnosis, and an explanation of your treatment options.