TMJ Disorder – The Painful Truth And How To Treat It
If you’re experiencing pain in your jaw, a change in how your upper and lower teeth fit together, or your jaw is making a loud clicking noise or occasionally locks, then it’s possible that you have TMJ Disorder. This being the case, you probably want more information about its symptoms, causes, and what sort of TMJ treatment Melbourne patients can expect. The good news is that you’ve come to the right place! Here at Ava Maria Dental we take a special interest in TMJ disorders and how to treat them, so let’s take a closer look.
Firstly, what exactly is TMJ disorder?
The temporomandibular joints (TMJ’s) connect the lower jaw to the upper jaw and work in conjunction with muscles, ligaments, bones, and discs to enable a person to speak, yawn, and chew. They’re extremely complex because they’re responsible for moving the joints backwards and forwards, as well as from side to side. Whenever a problem occurs that prevents these joints from working properly, it’s referred to as TMJ disorder. Often TMJ sufferers feel as if their jaw is popping or getting stuck. Unfortunately determining the exact cause of this misalignment can often be difficult.
Common symptoms of TMJ and how to spot them
TMJ can be difficult to diagnose because there are many symptoms and signs which occur in other problems. As a TMJ specialist Melbourne, we’ll discuss your medical and dental history, carry out a thorough clinical examination, and take a few X-rays to confirm the diagnosis. Some of the most common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
• Migraine like headaches, pain and pressure behind the eyes, earache
• Pain when opening the mouth widely, yawning, or chewing
• Tender jaw muscles
• A popping or clicking sound when opening or closing the mouth
• Jaws which lock, get stuck, or pop out
• Changes in bite alignment
As you can see, the TM joints affect all areas of your face, so it’s hardly surprising that you may be in so much pain.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
To date the exact cause of TMJ remains a mystery although dentists believe that the symptoms are associated with problems pertaining to the muscles within the jaw or even parts of the joint itself.
Some of the problems associated with TM joints are attributed to:
• Clenching and grinding of your teeth
• Stress (when it involves a tightening of the jaw or facial muscles)
• Rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis in the joints themselves
• Injury to head, neck, or jaw
• Dislocation of the soft disc of cartridge between the ball and socket
TMJ Treatment Melbourne – How we can help
Although there is no one single cure for TMJ disorder there are several treatments that our team can recommend which may reduce your symptoms significantly. Some of the most common treatments for TMJ pain relief include:
• Medication – Pain and spasms in the muscles can be alleviated by applying moist heat and/or taking anti-inflammatories, over the counter pain relief, such as aspirin, and muscle relaxants.
• Relaxation – Don’t be surprised if we tell you to relax more. Relaxation prevents your muscles from tensing so we might suggest you learn some proven techniques. In addition we may also suggest that you learn how to prevent or manage stress through counselling or training.
• Wear a night guard – A night-guard is another effective treatment for TMJ sufferers since it puts a stop to the harmful affects of teeth grinding and clenching. This is custom made to fit your mouth and is worn over the top teeth to prevent them from grinding against the bottom teeth.
Meanwhile to avoid further facial discomfort and pain in your jaw you might want to consider changing your diet to include softer foods. It’s also a good idea to avoid situations where you might become over-stressed and to think twice about any excessive lifting, which might cause you to clench your teeth and aggravate your TMJ.
As a last resort, and if all other treatments have proved unsuccessful, we may suggest surgery, but because it’s irreversible, you may want to get a couple of opinions before deciding to take this route.