At Parkway Dental, we offer conservative treatments for TMJ disorders. When you visit our dentist with a TMJ problem, we will carefully examine your jaw, and recommend the best course of treatment.
Temporomandibular joint and muscle disorders, commonly called TMJ, are a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the muscles that control jaw movement. Some estimates suggest that over 10 million North Americans are affected by TMJ disorder. The condition appears to be more common in women than men. TMJ is referred to by different names such as TMD, TMJ disorder, and TMJ dysfunction.
For most people, pain in the area of the jaw joint or muscles does not signal a serious problem. Generally, discomfort from these conditions is occasional and temporary, often occurring in cycles. The pain eventually goes away with little or no treatment. Some people, however, develop significant, long-term symptoms.
Disorders of the jaw joint and chewing muscles – and how people respond to them – vary widely. Researchers generally agree that the conditions fall into three main categories:
- Myofascial pain, the most common temporomandibular disorder, involves discomfort or pain in the muscles that control jaw function.
- Internal derangement of the joint involves a displaced disc, dislocated jaw, or injury to the condyle.
- Arthritis refers to a group of degenerative/inflammatory joint disorders that can affect the temporomandibular joint.
A person may have one or more of these conditions at the same time.
A variety of symptoms may be linked to TMJ disorders. Pain, particularly in the chewing muscles and/or jaw joint, is the most common symptom. Other symptoms include:
- Radiating pain in the face, jaw, or neck
- Jaw muscle stiffness
- Limited movement or locking of the jaw
- Painful clicking, popping or grating in the jaw joint when opening or closing the mouth
- A change in the way the upper and lower teeth fit together
Because more studies are needed on the safety and effectiveness of most treatments for jaw joint and muscle disorders, experts strongly recommend using the most conservative, reversible treatments possible. Conservative treatments do not invade the tissues of the face, jaw, or joint, or involve surgery. Reversible treatments do not cause permanent changes in the structure or position of the jaw or teeth. Even when TMJ disorders have become persistent, most patients still do not need aggressive types of treatment. Because the most common jaw joint and muscle problems are temporary and do not get worse, simple treatment is all that is usually needed to relieve discomfort.
There are steps you can take at home that may be helpful in easing symptoms, such as:
- Eating soft foods
- Applying ice packs
- Avoiding extreme jaw movements (such as wide yawning, loud singing, and gum chewing)
- Learning techniques for relaxing and reducing stress
- Practicing gentle jaw stretching and relaxing exercises that may help increase jaw movement
- Exercises if appropriate for your particular condition
We have found night guards and physical therapy to be very effective in the relief of TMJ disorder, and will often refer patients with this problem out to a physical therapist. For more information about TMJ treatment in Cary, North Carolina, and to schedule your appointment with Dr. Stephen Coker, please contact Parkway Dental at 919-380-9622.
For more information about TMJ treatments and to schedule your consultation with our dental professionals, contact our office today.