The complex ball and socket temporomandibular joints, known as TMJ hinge your jaw. They enable you to open your mouth, speak and make certain facial expressions. These joints that work together with a series of muscles and ligaments.
In between each ball and socket joint there is a small disk of cartilage that provides a small amount of slip that lets you grind food. There can be a great deal of tension caused in ligaments and jaw muscles, as well as the joints if you grind your teeth at night on a regular basis. This can lead to issues like arthritis, abnormal muscle tension and pain.
TMJ disorder is the general medical term used to note a problem in one or both of the joints. Initial symptoms include pain when opening your mouth, or biting down hard. It can also be accompanied by soreness in the jaw early in the morning and a persistent dull ache near the ears or temple.
Let your dentist know if you have experienced any symptoms, so they can take a closer look. If they suspect that you have TMJ disorder, they will often refer you to a physician or other specialist to confirm the diagnosis and explore treatment options.
The common treatment strategy calls for using a two-step approach. The first step calls for lifestyle modification like eating soft foods, and placing heat packs on the joints. If this doesn’t improve the problem in short order, treatment might advance to include medications, and rehabilitation exercises. This might include wearing a custom night guards while you sleep.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at (760) 598.1707 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.