The temporomandibular joint, or TMJ, can be a sore point for many people, and the causes of it can vary significantly. TMJ problems may stem from a sudden injury or a dislocation, but it can also develop over time from conditions like arthritis or improper alignment of the teeth or jaw. It can also appear during times of stress if you grind your teeth while sleeping.
Proper diagnosis of TMJ disorders are crucial before starting treatment. A dentist can perform a thorough examination, which includes checking the jaw’s range of motion and any abnormal sounds or sensations of the mouth. Based on these findings, the dentist may send someone to a specialist.
TMJ disorders have several different treatment paths. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research has created a detailed plan, and they recommend starting with basic methods and only pursuing more involved solutions if needed. First, choose softer foods, and completely stop using gum and chewing on fingernails. Next, apply heat to the painful areas while employing relaxation strategies. If symptoms do not improve, then your provider may recommend specific exercises for the jaw or start you on medications. Your dentist may design special mouth equipment or use other methods to change your dental alignment such as braces. Your provider can direct you further on the care that you need.