National TMJ Awareness Month
What is TMJ?
November is National TMJ Awareness Month, a national movement to help sufferers understand this ailment and how to find relief. Continue reading to learn what TMJ disorder is and what you can do to help relieve or eliminate the painful symptoms.
On September 30, 1997, United States Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts called his colleagues’ attention to the designation of that coming November and all future Novembers as Jaw Joints-TMJ Awareness Month. Frank noted that TMJ was not one of the better-known abbreviations and stated, “Temporomandibular joint disorders are among the more painful, yet least well-understood disorders affecting people today.”
Above all, According to the TMJ Association, Ltd. (TMJA), a nonprofit organization, approximately 35 million people are living with TMJ symptoms and pain. As the material Representative Frank entered into the Congressional Record noted, temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ) “afflict millions of Americans, both children and adults of both sexes and all races.”
A TMJ is essentially a disc that connects a person’s jawbone to their skull. This joint is a complex articulation of the movable lower jaw (mandible) and the base of the skull (temporal bone) that makes it possible to open and close your mouth. Located on each side of your head, your TMJ is a ball and socket joint, with an intervening disc, that works together along with supporting jaw muscles and ligaments to help you to chew, speak, and swallow.
TMJ disorder also refers to as TMD, is often overlooked during medical exams and could even be misdiagnosed. Our dentist Dr. Wasseem S. is a licensed Clinical Psychologist TMJD Snoring and Obstructive Sleep Apnea, pediatric, and adults. Above all, he can help you identify and treat the cause of your pain rather than just the symptoms.
What is TMJ Disorder?
The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is the joint where your jaw connects to your skull. It functions as a sliding hinge to keep the movement of your jaw nice and smooth while avoiding collision with the bones in your skull. TMJ disorders (TMD) can occur if the joint cartilage is inflamed, erodes, or becomes misaligned due to injury or overuse.
TMJ disorder of Temporomandibular disorders (TMD) can cause pain when moving your jaw. You can feel the pain in the joints and muscles that are used.
Symptoms of TMJ:
There are many symptoms to look out for when figuring out if you have TMJ syndrome, for example:
- Painful and/or difficulty chewing.
- Pain in the TMJ or jaw muscles.
- Stiffness or locking of the jaw.
- Pain in or around your ears, or a popping sound.
- Clicking noise in your jaw or popping of the joint.
- Limitations in jaw movement.
- Consistent Headaches, especially in the temples.
- Pain in or around your temples, face, or cheeks.
Finding the Best Treatment for TMJ from these Options:
Although your specific TMJ treatment plan is determined by the underlying cause of your problem and the severity of your symptoms, the vast majority of TMJ disorders respond well to a combination of conservative care solutions.
Diagnosis is essential before treatment. Most TMDs are self-limiting, so a conservative approach is best including: eating softer foods, avoiding repetitive functions (such as gum chewing, biting nails, ice-chip chewing), modifying pain with heat packs, practicing relaxation techniques to minimize jaw tension such as meditation or biofeedback. If necessary, your dentist may recommend exercises to strengthen your jaw muscles, medications (anti-inflammatories, analgesics, muscle relaxants, anti-anxiety drugs), or a night guard or bite plate to decrease clenching or grinding. Very rarely is a surgical intervention (such as arthrocentesis, arthroscopy) required.
Because TMJ disorders can affect your ability to speak, eat, and even sleep, managing the pain and discomfort brought on by TMJ problems can feel overwhelming. However, regardless of stage, there are several effective treatments for patients to try. While most TMJ disorders are resolved with conservative treatments, surgical intervention is sometimes needed to relieve discomfort and pain. Some conservative treatments include an adjusted diet, bite realignment, wearing a mouth guard, or restorative dentistry. Patients with stress-induced TMJ may find counseling and exercises to be helpful.
If patients have TMJ caused by malocclusion (an improper bite), one of the most effective treatments is orthodontics. Orthodontic treatment can correct the improper bite and ensure that the jaw functions without compensating for misaligned teeth. In many cases, orthodontics can also reduce rates of jaw clenching or teeth grinding, since misaligned teeth are more prone to these TMJ-inducing habits. Here in Bloomfield Dental Center, we have Dr. Hany Y. is one of our specialist dentists in orthodontic cases.
What Should You Do?
When you suffer from painful TMJ disorders, take the first step toward a pain-free life. By determining the causes of your pain, we can discuss treatment options that will transform the way you feel and leave you with your happiest, healthiest smile yet. It’s a good chance to visit Bloomfield Dental Center!
Dr. Wassem Samman believes dental treatments shouldn’t be limited to just your teeth, which is why he offers quality and effective TMJ treatment at Bloomfield Dental Center.