TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint. This joint connects your jaw to your skull and sits right in front of your ear. TMJ disorders, abbreviated to “TMD,” can be caused by several issues. Arthritis, injury, genetics, or bruxism (teeth grinding) may all contribute to TMJ issues. However, it can be hard to trace what causes TMD to develop, as these issues alone don’t guarantee the condition. TMJ can cause pain, tension, headaches, jaw locking, ear pain, and difficulty chewing but can largely be managed through lifestyle changes and dental interventions. While you may need surgery for severe TMD, it is rare and often the last resort.
Lifestyle Changes to Manage TMD
TMJ disorders can cause pain while chewing and can even lead to jaw locking. To avoid this, eating softer foods may help alleviate the pain. Avoiding chewier foods like gum can also make a difference in TMD symptoms. The symptoms can also be relieved through heat packs, meditation, and relaxation techniques to help relieve stress. Exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles may also be helpful and can help your jaw joints relearn how to relax. Overall, learning how your TMJ functions, and working on reducing any aggravating factors that may cause the condition to fail, can help you relieve pain. Over-the-counter pain medications are another potential treatment.
Mouthguards for TMD
If you are experiencing TMJ pain, talk to your dentist about a custom-made mouth guard. These mouth guards act as a glide to reduce teeth grinding. Though these are more expensive, other mouthguards act as splints to prevent your jaw from moving at night. Your dentist will work with you to determine what kind of mouthguard works best for your unique condition. Thankfully, custom-made mouthguards can also reduce the wear and tear on your teeth from bruxism. While you can purchase night guards for TMD at your local pharmacy or drug store, they may lead to bite alignment changes, so be sure to talk with your dentist before deciding on an over-the-counter night guard.
Next Steps for TMD Treatment
Surgery may be an option if you are looking for a more permanent solution to TMJ pain. However, TMJ surgery is invasive and takes a while to heal; most dentists are unlikely to perform surgery unless all other methods have failed. In many cases, your dentist may recommend orthodontic treatment. Realigning your bite may reduce stress on your jaw joint, leading to fewer TMD symptoms. Of course, surgery and orthodontic are more serious solutions, and are only employed if your dentist is concerned for the health of your teeth, or if other solutions offer no relief.
To find out more about TMJ treatment in Miami, contact our office here at Artistic Smiles by calling (305) 271-3333. Our dental experts would be more than willing to set up a consultation appointment for you. We pride ourselves on offering the best TMJ treatment options in Miami and work closely with TMD patients to alleviate their symptoms and provide treatment that best suits their unique needs. To find out more, give us a call or set up an appointment online today.