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What is TMJ and how is it Treated?

Perhaps you have heard of TMJ but aren’t quite sure what it means. TMJ is short for temporomandibular disorder and is also called TMD. It refers to problems with your jaw joints or temporomandibular joints and the muscles connected to them. You have two temporomandibular joints, one each side of your jaw, connecting your lower jaw to your skull. Your jaw joints allow you to freely move your jaw so you can talk, yawn and chew. Problems with these joints can be pretty painful and may require treatment with our dentist in South Benfleet.

jaw-problemWhat Causes TMJ?

It’s not exactly known what causes TMJ but symptoms can develop if you have problems with the actual jaw joints or with any of the muscles attached to your jaws. This may be due to an injury as whiplash, or a heavy blow to the head can lead to TMJ. It might also be caused by bruxism, where you clench and grind your teeth, putting a lot of pressure on your jaw joints. Your facial muscles can become tight and sore if you are under a lot of stress and arthritis can also create problems with your temporomandibular joints.

What Are the Symptoms of TMJ?

TMJ can cause facial tenderness and pain around the jaw joint area and this pain can extend into your neck and shoulders. You might notice it when you try to chew or speak and opening your mouth very wide could be painful. Sometimes people with TMJ will find their jaws get locked in the open or close position, or you could notice your jaws will make a clicking or popping sound whenever you try to open and close your mouth or to chew food. This clicking or popping sound doesn’t necessarily cause any pain. It might feel as if your upper and lower teeth don’t fit together correctly and the pain and inflammation in your jaw joints can cause facial swelling. Other symptoms include headaches and earaches, tinnitus or feeling dizzy and it can cause toothache.

Getting a Diagnosis for TMJ

If you think you might have TMJ or have unexplained facial pain or jaw joint pain, make an appointment to come and see our South Benfleet dentist. They will carefully check your jaw joints for any signs of pain and inflammation and will assess how smoothly you are able to move your jaw. It’s possible that we might need to take dental x-rays to view your jaw joints more clearly and more advanced scans such as a CT scan or MRI might occasionally be necessary.

Treating TMJ

The most straightforward way to treat TMJ is for our South Benfleet dentist to construct a custom-made night splint or guard. This is a hard plastic mouthguard that will generally fit over your upper teeth, preventing them from coming into contact with your lower teeth. The night splint will help put your jaws into a more relaxed position, preventing clenching and grinding.Sometimes treating any bite problems can be useful as if your teeth are correctly aligned then they are less likely to place stress on your jaw joints.

If you have been waking up with headaches or facial pain or think you might have the symptoms of TMJ then please contact South Benfleet Dental Care to book an appointment with our friendly dentists. You can get in touch with us on 01268 793485 or if it’s more convenient you can book online at www.sbenfleetdentalcare.co.uk.

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