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What is TMJ and How Can It Be Treated?

You have two temporomandibular joints, one either side of your lower jaw, connecting it to your skull. These joints allow you to freely move your lower jaw from side to side and up and down so you can yawn, talk and chew. If you develop problems with these jaw joints and the muscles associated with controlling it, then it’s referred to as temporomandibular joint disorder or TMJ or sometimes TMD. The pain caused by TMJ can be considerable, resulting in facial pain that may extend down into your neck and shoulders and it can create chronic headaches. Other symptoms can include:

  • jaw problemsBeing unable to open and close your mouth comfortably
  • Finding your jaws are locked in an open or closed position
  • Your jaw may make a clicking or popping sound when you open or close your mouth and this could be painful
  • It might seem as if your bite has changed so your upper and lower teeth don’t fit together comfortably anymore and this can create problems with chewing

What Causes TMJ?

There are various different things that can cause TMJ as for example if you have a heavy blow to your head or neck or suffer whiplash it can result in this condition. Other causes include clenching and grinding your teeth which is a condition called bruxism, and sometimes the joints can become arthritic.

Diagnosing TMJ

If you think you might have TMJ and frequently wake up with facial or jaw pain then it’s worth booking an appointment with our Downham Market dentist. There are a number of other problems that can cause symptoms similar to TMJ and which include gum disease, tooth decay and sinus problems so we will need to check for these conditions. Our dentist will physically examine your jaw joints for any signs of pain or tenderness and they will ask you to open and close your mouth to listen for any possible clicks or pops. They will also be interested in looking at the way your teeth bite together and in checking your facial muscles for any potential problems. At this appointment it’s likely we may wish to take some x-rays to view your temporomandibular joints in greater detail. Depending on the results of these x-rays, it might be necessary to have further tests that could include a CT scan or an MRI.

Treating TMJ

There are a number of ways that TMJ can be treated but one of the simplest methods is for our dentist in Downham Market to make you a custom-made night guard. This is normally made from hard plastic and will prevent your teeth from contacting during the night, helping your jaws to relax. Other treatments that can help involve correcting any problems with your bite that may be causing you to clench and grind and which will place your jaw joints under stress. This may mean replacing old crowns or ill-fitting dental appliances so your teeth can bite together correctly.

There is no need to put up with the pain of TMJ as our dentist in Downham Market can help you. To book an appointment call Downham Market Dental Care on 01366 382265.

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