If you have unexplained cracking and popping in your jaw, an ongoing earache that does not seem to want to go away, and pain when you chew, there is a very high likelihood that you are suffering from TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder. Your temporomandibular joint is the hinge that connects your jaw to the rest of your face, and when it stops working as expected, that is when the pain and the dysfunction occurs. For many people, this disorder is a mild inconvenience, but it can be completely devastating and disabling for others. We here at Ashley Bennett DDS and J.J. Perkiomaki DMD PC understand how miserable TMJ can be and will work with you to ease your symptoms and help you find relief.
What is TMJ and What Can I Do About It?Most people do not pay much attention to their temporomandibular joint. For the most part, this connective joint goes unnoticed. However, the moment that it becomes dysfunctional and stops working properly, it can suddenly become the center of your attention. TMJ disorder can cause headaches, pain or tenderness in your mouth or your jaw, clicking and locking of the joint, and pain when you chew. The cause of TMJ disorder is a little bit of a mystery, but for many people, stress seems to be a major trigger. Other factors that can lead to TMJ disorder include arthritis, an impact injury to your jaw, or if your joint disk wears down. People who grind their teeth have a higher risk of problems with TMJ, as do those who have poor bite alignment.
Getting properly diagnosed can be incredibly helpful in treating your TMJ disorder and helping you get relief from the symptoms. If you come to our office with complaints of popping or grinding in your jaw, we will start with a visual assessment to see if we can determine if you do have TMJ disorder. We may ask you to move or flex your mouth and jaw so we can listen for any of the telltale clicks or pops. We may also massage or palpitate your jaw to help diagnose you.
Treating TMJIf we determine that you do have TMJ disorder, we can get you started on immediate treatment for it. For starters, if you chew gum, we will recommend that you stop immediately. We may also fit you with a nighttime device if you are grinding your teeth in your sleep. This can help relieve the symptoms of your TMJ. We may also prescribe you certain medications to help you manage the pain, such as anti- inflammatories, muscle relaxants, or even antidepressants (which have been demonstrated to be highly beneficial to those with TMJ problems). We may also teach you exercises to strengthen and stretch your jaw muscle, and warm compresses can also help with the pain. If your TMJ is severe and resistant to other treatment methods, we may finally recommend more intensive intervention procedures such as arthrocentesis (irrigation of the site with fluids), injections of steroids or Botox, or open-joint surgery.
Questions about TMJ?You do not need to suffer needlessly from the pain of TMJ disorder. If you suspect that your pain is due to TMJ, or if you would like to learn more about TMJ, please give us a call today at Ashley Bennett DDS and J.J. Perkiomaki DMD PC at (503) 292-8996 to schedule an appointment at our office.
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