TMJ Treatment in Franklin, MA
What Is TMJ?
TMJ, also referred to as TMJD or TMD, is an abbreviation for temporomandibular joint dysfunction. It describes problems with the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. The movement of these joints can be felt by placing the fingers on each side of the face, directly in front of your ears, and opening and closing the mouth.
People who experience TMJ typically have pain in the general area of the jaw joint, which may present as headaches or radiate into the neck, shoulders and inside the ears. They may be unable to open their mouth widely; the jaw may even "lock" in an open or closed position. There is often a feeling of grinding or clicking that accompanies jaw movements like talking or chewing. Some TMJ sufferers notice that their upper and lower teeth do not fit together properly.
What Causes TMJ?
There are several conditions thought to cause or contribute to TMJ. These include injuries like whiplash, teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), arthritis or stress. TMJ is most commonly diagnosed in people aged 20 to 40, and women are more likely to have TMJ than men. Dentists diagnose TMJ through a combination of diagnostic imaging and physical examination; the movement of the jaw and the bite will be evaluated and compared with X-rays, CT scan or MRI images.
The Truth About TMJ Problems
Your temporomandibular joint (TMJ) performs a very important function in chewing and speaking. It is also a unique joint that moves as a sliding hinge, unlike any other joint in your body. Because of its unique characteristics, the TMJ can move out of alignment and become inflamed. TMJ inflammation can cause all kinds of other problems like headaches and facial pain that can be severe. But don't worry, New England Dental Associates in Franklin, MA offers TMJ treatment to help alleviate your pain and jaw problems.
Common Signs and Symptoms of TMJ
- Clicking, popping or locking when you chew or open and close your mouth
- Pain or difficulty when you chew or open your mouth
- Aching facial pain that can radiate to other areas of your face
- Jaw tenderness and pain
- Aching pain in and around your ear
For relief of minor TMJ symptoms, you can try to:
- Avoid grinding or clenching your teeth
- Avoid chewy, sticky foods and gum
- Eat soft foods
- Take over-the-counter pain relieving medications
- Gently massage your jaw muscles
- Apply moist heat or ice packs to your jaws and face
TMJ Treatment Options
If you continue to have symptoms or your symptoms become more severe, our dentists are here to help with several professional treatments for TMJ. We may prescribe muscle relaxants, sedatives or pain medications in addition to these treatments:
- Wearing a custom-made splint or bite guard
- Physical therapy stretching exercises
- Moist heat and ice to the affected areas
- Corticosteroid injections into the jaw joint
In some extreme cases, surgery may be needed to obtain relief. Many surgical treatments can be performed arthroscopically, which is much less invasive than conventional surgery. Ideally, TMJ problems should be treated before they become severe enough to need surgery.