Currently, an estimated 10 million Americans struggle with Temporal Mandibular Joint (TMJ) disease, making it one of the most commonly seen issues in many dental offices, including ours, Princeton Park Dental Associates. TMJ is known for its intense pain, most often located in the head and/or neck area. This is because the temporal mandibular joint is located near the top of where the mandible, or lower jaw, meets the upper jaw at the base of the skull.
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What Causes TMJ?
There are many causes of TMJ disorder, which is one of the reasons why it can be so difficult to diagnose. Some contributors to the disease are:
- genetic disposition
- injury to the jaw
- constant clenching and/or grinding of teeth
Like many other joints in the body, the temporal mandibular joint is subject to inflammation and other chronic joint problems. It is also vulnerable to a general breakdown of the joint as well. Because the symptoms vary widely in both location and severity, it can be difficult to diagnose and properly treat, which is why working with a dentist, skilled in the signs and symptoms of the disease is vital, like Dr. Abrams.
Symptoms can range from:
- pain or tenderness in the jaw
- slight jaw clicking with no pain
- severe head and neck pain that is not relieved by medication
- pain in or around the ear
- ringing in the ear
- locking of the jaw
A complete diagnosis usually takes place during a thorough dental exam where the following procedures are offered:
- obtaining a history of your symptoms
- examining your jaw joint for tenderness
- listening for any clicking or popping sounds
- checking for lockjaw by having you open and close your mouth
- testing your bite for any misalignments
- x-rays to get a better view
- MRI to make sure the TMJ disc is in the right place
Options For TMJ Treatment
Once diagnosed, proper treatments include:
- placement of a nightguard
- over-the-counter meds
- hot and cold packs
- soft foods
- relaxation techniques
- in severe cases, surgery
For most people, the symptoms of TMJ go away on their own, but only a dentist specializing in the disease can comfortably rule out the most severe cases and set up a program to help alleviate discomfort. as well as set up a preventative program. TMJ can be an irritating, overwhelming condition to live with. But there are so many simple remedies available that living in pain is no longer necessary. Contact Dr. Abrams, of Princeton Park Dental Associates, today at (609) 924-5111, and let us show you how we can help you be pain-free from this painful disease.