Dental Services > TMJ Therapy  

TMJ Therapy

One of the most common dental problems that people have affects their temporomandibular joint (TMJ). Two TMJ joints can be found in each person and the TMJ is the joint that is used to open and close a person's mouth. Connecting the mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bones of the skull (the bones found on the side of the skull), there are TMJ joints found on both the left and right side of a person's jaw.

Bruxism is the clenching together of both the upper and lower teeth. Clenching can cause pressure on the muscles, tissues, and other surrounding structures of the jaw, and can cause jaw joint disorders, headaches, neck pain, jaw pain, ear pain, tense muscles, and excessive wear on the teeth. Collectively, these symptoms are referred to as "TMJ" problems. Bruxism is a common problem, it is estimated that 30-40 million Americans are affected by it.

A large number of people who clench also tend to grind their teeth. Grinding is when you slide your teeth over each other in a back and forth, sideways movement. If not treated, excessive grinding can wear down your teeth.

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Symptoms of TMJ include:
Headaches
Vertigo
Tinnitus
Facial pain
Unexplained loose teeth
Neck, shoulder or back pain
Limited movement or locking jaw
Worn, chipping or cracked teeth
Congestion or stiffness of the ears
Pain or soreness around the jaw joints
Clicking or grating sounds in the jaw joints
Cracking, chipping or breaking of dental restorations

The cause of bruxism is not completely known, but many agree that stress and anxiety play a major role. Stress reduction and anxiety management are methods used to treat bruxism and reduce the symptoms, but a DENTAL NIGHT GUARD is the most commonly used treatment method. A NIGHT GUARD is a horseshoe-shaped, retainer-like, plastic appliance with shallow borders that can be worn on either the top or the bottom arch. It is designed to protect the teeth from the pressure of clenching and grinding by providing a protective cushion between the upper and lower teeth. A NIGHT GUARD can be a simple and affordable solution for protecting your teeth and jaws from the damaging effects of bruxism. It can help reduce clenching, grinding, and TMJ problems by helping to relax the muscles in the jaw.

Night Guard

Fabricated Nightguards generally take two visits to the dentist. On the first visit, an impression of your upper and lower teeth is made. These impressions are then sent to a dental laboratory to fabricate. On the second visit, the night guard is adjusted for optimal fit. These appliances are specific to your mouth only and will not fit others. Normally you need to wear the night guard each night for it to work properly. It takes a few nights to get adjusted to, but it is usually comfortable to wear and you get used to it easily.

Treatment for TMJ syndrome is most successful when the symptoms are recognized early and treatment is sought quickly. The longer you wait to seek treatment, the longer it will take to resolve the problem. This is especially true if your jaw becomes disabled due to the dysfunction of the joint.

To relieve symptoms of TMJ problems, you may need to include resting the muscles of the jaw by eating soft foods and avoiding foods that require the jaw to open wide, such as corn on the cob, large sandwiches, or apples. You may be told to stop chewing gum, nail biting, and clenching or tensing the jaw. Treatments may also include applying moist heat to relax the muscles of the jaw for 30 minutes, twice a day or applying ice for 20 minutes, twice a day to reduce inflammation and soreness in the muscles of the jaw.

 

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