Temporomandibular joint disorder, or TMJ disorder, is a painful condition that can make opening and closing the mouth painful. Often recognized by a clicking or popping of the jaw, TMJ disorder may require dental intervention. Neuromuscular dentistry specifically addresses TMJ disorder, taking into account the factors responsible for the functioning of the temperomandibular joint, to help relieve the painful symptoms of TMJ disorder. To find out how neuromuscular dentistry for TMJ disorder can help you, schedule a consultation with Albuquerque, NM dentist Byron W. Wall.
What Is TMJ Disorder?
TMJ disorder, also called TMD, is a disorder of the temporomandibular joint, the joint that connects the jaw to the temporal bones of the skull. The temporomandibular joint, along with surrounding muscles, allow the jaw to move up and down, as well as side to side, which is necessary for eating and talking. With TMJ disorder, the temporomandibular joint does not move properly, leading to pain, discomfort, a clicking sound, or jaw locking.
What Causes TMJ Disorder?
Although just what causes TMJ disorder isn't exactly clear, it is believed that the symptoms come from issues either with the temporomandibular joint itself or the muscles responsible for movement of the joint. Some factors that may cause TMJ disorder symptoms include:
- Teeth grinding or clenching: Teeth grinding and clenching put great strain and pressure on the jaw, potentially causing TMJ disorder symptoms.
- Jaw injury: Injury to the jaw, including the temporomandibular joint and muscles, can cause TMJ disorder.
- Arthritis: Arthritis affecting the temporomandibular joint is another possible cause of TMJ disorder.
- Movement of the disc: There is a soft, cushion disc that sits between the ball and socket of the temporomandibular joint. If this disc moves out of place, whether from injury, genetics, or other factors, the ball and socket of the joint may rub or grind against each other, resulting in pain and discomfort.
The Symptoms of TMJ Disorder
The pain and discomfort of TMJ disorder may be mild or severe. Both temporomandibular joints may be affected by the disorder or it may be unilateral. Some common symptoms of TMJ disorder include:
- Clicking or popping sound when opening or closing the mouth
- Difficulty opening the mouth wide
- Pain surrounding the jaw joint, neck, shoulders, or ears
- The jaw locks, or sticks, when trying to open or close the mouth
- Difficulty chewing
- Tinnitus, or ringing in the ears
- Facial swelling
How Can Neuromuscular Dentistry Help?
Neuromuscular dentistry is a branch of dentistry specifically designed to diagnose and treat TMJ disorder. Neuromuscular dentistry examines the relationship between the temporomandibular joint and the connecting muscles, nerves, and tendons to pinpoint the underlying cause of TMJ disorder and determine the most appropriate treatment for providing relief for each patient's unique needs. Treatment may include:
- Custom-made mouth guards to reduce stress on the temporomandibular joint
- Orthodontics to correct bite and alignment issues
- Dental restorations to adjust specific areas of the bite
- Therapy to encourage facial relaxation or correct chewing habits
Find out if Neuromuscular Dentistry Is Right for You
You don't have to suffer with TMJ disorder. Neuromuscular dentistry can help provide relief. To find out if neuromuscular dentistry is right for your needs, schedule a consultation with Dr. Wall.