TMJ disorder is a term used to describe a problem with the temporomandibular joints that hinge your lower jaw to the upper jaw and the rest of the head. Issues in this area most often related to a past injury or inflammation caused by a chronic source such as grinding your teeth or the development of arthritis.
Early symptoms begin as persistent dull ache near the ears or temples, which could include pain when opening your mouth, chewing or grinding food.
Grinding of your teeth at night is a common causes of TMJ disorder. However, it could also be related to a past dislocation, arthritis or other injury to one or both of the complex ball and socket joints.
Treatment options vary depending on the underlying source of the problem. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research recommends a two-stage approach to treatment.
Early treatment involves lifestyle modifications such as eating soft foods, or using heat packs to soothe muscle tension. If this proves ineffective your physician will probably suggest more advanced treatment options.
Wearing a custom night guard each night will often help if your TMJ disorder is related to grinding your teeth. Your dentist fits the mouthpiece to your teeth to slip, thus reducing damage to your teeth and helping to ease tension in the muscles in your jaw.
This often works in tandem with rehab exercises designed to strengthen key jaw muscles, and medications to help relax all the muscles and mitigate inflammation issues. This could also include the use of anti-inflammatory medication.
If you have questions or concerns about TMJ disorder, please call us at 818-641-5577 to schedule an appointment. Early diagnosis improves your chances for successful treatment.