What is TMJ, and What Is a TMJ Disorder?

TMJ is an acronym for your temporomandibular joint. Everyone has a TMJ, or more accurately, everyone has two. These are the ‘hinges’ that connect your lower jaw to your cheekbone to allow your mouth to open and close. When something goes wrong regarding your TMJ, this means you have a temporomandibular joint disorder (TMD). TMD may be caused by several factors. Your dentist in Salina, KS, can diagnose and treat most instances of TMD.

Causes of TMD

Injury to the face or jaw is often a precursor to TMD. But there may be other culprits, as well. Arthritis can interfere with the way your TMJ operates, and so can bruxism — grinding your teeth. For some, TMJ disorders are genetic, meaning if they run in your family, you may be more at risk of developing them yourself. In most instances, disorders of the temporomandibular joint are easily treated.

Symptoms of TMD

When something goes wrong with your temporomandibular joint, you’ll usually know. Symptoms include:

  • Painful headaches
  • Tenderness in the jaw
  • Pain that feels like it’s in your ears
  • Difficulty when chewing
  • Locking, or immobility, of the joint
  • Clicking or grating sensation

Sometimes it’s difficult to diagnose a TMD because the pain seems to radiate throughout your face. However, if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, a dental appointment may be all that’s needed to bring relief.

Treatment for Temporomandibular Joint Disorder

Your dentist in Salina, KS, may recommend therapeutic exercises you can do at home to help relieve the symptoms of TMD, or they may prescribe a medication such as a pain reliever, muscle relaxer, or an anti-inflammatory. Occlusal appliances may also be helpful in treating your TMD. These are basically mouthguards you can wear over your teeth. In extreme situations, corticosteroid injections or surgery may be required.

If you need help with a temporomandibular joint disorder in Salina, KS, call Fine Art of Family Dentistry to schedule an appointment today.