TMJ: How to Prevent Problems and Complications

Temporomandibular Joint Syndrome - or TMJ as it is more commonly known - is an all-too-frequent oral affliction that affects millions of people around the world. It is a disorder of both the jaw joints and surrounding muscles that manifests itself in a variety of annoying and/or painful symptoms that include: localized jaw pain, clicking jaws, locked jaws, earaches, headaches, and hindered movement while chewing, yawning or speaking. In general, TMJ is caused by a malfunction - whether damaged or injured - in the connection between the temporomandibular joint and the mandible (lower jaw) to the temporal bone located at the base of the skull. It is a condition that can be challenging to live with and can go undiagnosed if you do not know what signs to look for.

The conditions of TMJ are quite frequently misunderstood by dental patients simply because causes and symptoms have the potential to be so varied. The causes of TMJ range from arthritis and jaw damage to bruxism (the grinding of teeth) and even chewing gum. Though general damage to the jaw is often the underlying factor, each of the different causes will determine how you can combat your discomfort. The best way to avoid complications from TMJ is to take action as soon as possible and work towards treating the problem. Because TMJ comes in many different forms no two cases can expect the same results from treatment. Below, we have outlined a list of the most common treatments for TMJ beginning with the least invasive and ending with the most drastic treatments for extreme cases.

1. Home Remedies

Home remedies are the easiest way of combating your TMJ symptoms, but they will not necessarily guarantee results. These remedies can help alleviate pain and make a difference in mild cases, but they may not yield permanent results. Home remedies include: ice packs, anti-inflammatory drugs, and jaw and neck massages.

2. Mouth Guards

This remedy requires a trip to the dentist, but it can be well worth the trip. Getting a custom-made mouth guard can protect your mouth, teeth, and jaw by preventing grinding and helping the overall alignment of your teeth. It should be noted that mouth guards are especially effective for those whose TMJ is triggered by bruxism, but is certainly worth exploring if you aren't sure what has triggered your symptoms.

3. Corrective Dental Work

Though this is not the most drastic of preventative measures this can be a bit more costly. As such, it is a procedure that should only be undergone with the express recommendation of your dentist when all other options have proven to be ineffective.

4. Botox

Yes, you read that correctly. The same Botox injections that are used for cosmetic procedures are now one of the newer - and more controversial - techniques for TMJ treatment. Botox injections have become a non-invasive solution to the extreme jaw muscle tension associated with TMJ due to their muscle-paralyzing properties. The injection is generally painless and effectively relieves muscle tension by relaxing the muscles surrounding the temporomandibular joint. Though this treatment has been proven to get results they are not necessarily permanent and may require continued appointments.

5. Surgery

Corrective surgery is the most drastic measure to correct TMJ and is an absolute last resort. Again, this plan of action will be recommended by your dentist or orthodontist

If you believe you may have TMJ, but have gone undiagnosed, consider making an appointment with us. Home remedies may not necessarily improve your situation and our staff is ready to help you fight the adverse affects of this condition. TMJ can become a serious problem that inhibits your life with discomfort and pain. Do not delay in taking action. Contact us today!

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