TMJ Discomfort and Disorder
Temporomandibular Joint Disorder, commonly known as TMJ, is a complex and problematic orthodontic condition. It is an acute disorder that takes place between the joints that connect the mandible to the skull, causing severe jaw dysfunction and often requiring long-term orthodontic care.
Left untreated, TMJ can lead to debilitating pain when chewing or speaking, as well as difficulty opening or closing your jaw at will. In the most extreme cases, patients lose total control of their jaw, and it may even become permanently locked shut.
It’s not always easy to find a qualified dental professional in Anchorage, AK who understands TMJ, so if you are looking for TMJ Disorder treatment, look no further than Dr. Triggs and the team at Alaska Dental Associates.
Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
TMJ disorder is specific to the jaw region, so the symptoms and signs are easily noticeable. The first and most basic symptom is continuous throbbing pain in the jaw. The throbbing may be localized to specific areas, or it may be felt throughout your entire jaw. The pain is similar to a migraine (which is incidentally also one of the symptoms): tolerable but constant pain that dramatically increases in sudden bursts. In addition to the jaw, pain may also be evident in the temples, tongue, shoulder, and ears.
In addition to pain, another common symptom includes a clicking sound whenever you move your jaw. Blurred vision, muscle spasms, ringing in the ears, and lockjaw are some of the more severe symptoms of TMJ disorder.
If you’ve been experiencing any of these symptoms for a prolonged period of time with no other clear explanation, you should seek professional attention as soon as possible to check for TMJ and prevent symptoms from worsening.
Common Causes of TMJ Disfunction
Even with all of the peer reviewed studies and available medical technology, the causes of TMJ disorder still fall in a hazy grey area. While the exact causes haven’t been identified, it has been ascertained by established orthodontic science that anything that can cause muscle tightness in the area where the jaw and skull connect can lead to TMJ.
Keeping that in mind, some of the most common causes of TMJ disorder include malocclusion, bruxism (excessive grinding of teeth), bad sitting posture, inherent physical conditions like arthritis that cause stiffness of muscles, excessive gum chewing, and even misaligned orthodontic braces.
TMJ Disorder Treatment – An Overview
We’ll treat your TMJ in stages according to the severity of your symptoms. Typically, we begin with a conservative approach before moving on to more invasive procedures.
The initial focus of treatment is on relieving the pain and other symptoms of TMJ. To this end, you may be directed to take anti-inflammatory drugs, pain relievers, or muscle relaxers. Steroid injections may also serve to reduce pain or inflammation in the joints.
There are also a number of things you can do at home to relieve your TMJ symptoms. These include applying cold and hot compresses, maintaining proper posture, avoiding hard foods, limiting jaw activity at times, and separating your teeth when they are not in use.
Some of the more effective and long-term treatments for TMJ disorders can only be done by a professional orthodontist. One of the most common treatment processes is using a dental splint. A dental splint is a specialized mouth guard that Dr. Triggs will fix in your jaw. This keeps the tooth alignment proper without hampering day-to-day activities.
In severe cases, these fixes are not enough and you might require dental surgery. The most common dental surgery procedures for TMJ disorder are arthroscopy and total joint replacement. These are generally reserved as a last resort when symptoms are unbearable and all other treatment options have failed.
Contact Us Today to Find Out Your Options for Treatment in Anchorage
If your jaw has been giving you unexplainable pain, or if you’re suffering from any of the other symptoms we’ve described, you might have TMJ. If you’ve been treated for TMJ elsewhere to no avail, it may be time for a second opinion.
In either case, Dr. Triggs and the team of professionals at Alaska Dental Associates are here to help you find much needed relief from this debilitating disorder. Contact us today to schedule an appointment to get to the bottom of your TMJ and make a plan for treatment that works.