TMJ Treatment in Issaquah
Patients come to our dental clinic in Issaquah, WA all the time complaining of jaw and face pain. Many suffer from TMJ disorder. They’re not alone. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, between 5% and 12% of the population have some kind of TMJ disorder. So, what is it, what causes it, and how do you treat it?
What Is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint connects the lower jawbone (the mandible) to the bottom of the skull. It’s one of the most complicated joints in the body, both sliding and hinging as the mouth opens and closes. Everyone has two TMJ joints, one on either side of the head, and it’s these joints that allow us to talk, chew, and yawn.
TMJ disorders occur whenever something goes wrong with the joint, causing pain, locking, or popping. People with TMJ syndrome may even have difficulty opening their mouths because of stiffness or catching in the joints. For some reason, women are twice as prone to TMJ disorders as men, and younger people tend to complain of TMJ problems at a higher rate than older people.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder can cause:
- Pain and tenderness in and around the jaw
- Pain and tenderness in and around the ear
- Facial pain
- Pain while chewing
- Difficulty chewing or opening
- Locking of the joint
- Popping of the joint
What Causes TMJ Disorders?
In most cases, doctors can’t trace the cause of TMJ problems. Someone may complain of pain, even when diagnostic imaging shows no structural problems. That being said, we know that TMJ can be caused by:
- Trauma: Any traumatic injury to the jaw can lead to long-term TMJ problems.
- Disease: Connective tissue diseases (abnormalities in tissues, ligaments, and tendons) can be key contributors to TMJ disorders.
- Arthritis: Inflammation of the TMJ (arthritis) can cause pain and stiffness in the jaw.
- Erosion: The disc that separates the bones and cartilage in your jaw can wear down over time, leading to painful popping and clicking. Grinding and clenching are some of the most common causes of disc erosion.
- Misalignment: When the teeth or jaw are out of alignment, it may cause the joint to pop and click, causing pain and difficulty chewing.
- Hormones: Since TMJ tends to affect women at a higher rate than men, researchers are currently exploring a possible link between hormones and jaw problems, although there has been no conclusive evidence of a direct correlation.
TMJ Treatment Options
TMJ disorders often go away on their own or respond to conservative home remedies, but some people experience lingering pain and limited mobility. Most people will find relief from the following conservative courses of action:
- Heat and ice
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) painkillers
- Jaw stretches
- Rest (no chewing gum, hard candies, etc.)
- Relaxation (to reduce stress)
Adjustment of the bite in order to allow the teeth to fit together more naturally and to eliminate bite interference
Typically, dentists don’t recommend treatment unless someone experiences long-term pain, as well as clicking, popping, or problems opening the jaw. When patients do present with chronic or serious TMJ problems, they could benefit from:
- Dental splints
- Botox injections
- Physical therapy
- Prescription medications
Rarely do people need to see an emergency dentist for a TMJ problem, but if the pain spirals out of control or if someone has difficulty opening their mouths, then they should consult with a dentist as soon as possible to discuss treatment options.
Treating TMJ in Issaquah, WA
Treating TMJ disorders doesn’t have to be a pain. At Remarkable Smiles dental clinic in Issaquah, WA, we’ve helped many patients overcome the pain and discomfort that erodes their quality of life, and we can help you, too.
Since TMJ problems have many causes and manifest themselves in different ways, treatment should be tailored to the individual. From recommending aspirin to installing dental crowns and dental implants that restore proper alignment, we can help you find the right remedy for your specific condition.